Sunday, March 20, 2011

With Age Comes . . .

A leg to chew on
Image courtesy: Taz, etc.

“Gah!”

The doll slipped out of his pudgy fingers again. He snatched it off the floor and stuffed the rubber head in his mouth. This time it came off. He socked the hole to his eye.

Yes, there was just enough room. He started stuffing in the C4 plastique.

Firecracker Explosion
Image courtesy: Wesley Oostvogels

Thank you, bartender, I'll have another:

The left knee woke her. Jen couldn’t sit up and massage it; her back was too stiff. The MRI was scheduled for 9:30. She was terrified that the doctor would recommend a knee replacement.

She couldn’t let that happen. After her right knee was replaced, she was out for four freakin’ months. The American Cup was in four weeks and her full twist and a flip flop, flip flop 2.5 beam dismount kicked ass.

Knee Injury
Image courtesy: The Latest Slub

Okay, I’m messing with you. Blame Terry Towery and his blog on aging. It got me to thinking of all the ways a writer can convey a character’s age. Stating it is boring. Having someone look in the mirror? Boring. My little trick with misdirection is fun, but it’s only good for introducing a character.

Setting and action can tag a character’s age. Cheating on an algebra quiz, screaming at the kids in the backseat to shut UP, searching through a purse to find that elusive coupon for Fixident—each comes with assumption of the character’s age.

Of course dialogue is handy. Young children skip articles, drop endings, and misuse words. “Her my bestest frien’.” They also misinterpret what they hear—sometimes with awesome results. Little Bear called our washing machine ‘wash and clean’ and Big Bear declared the huge yellow trucks with scoops on front to be ‘bobo-lizards’.

When I wanted to make sure my college-age character sounded authentic, scouring blogs at 20 Something Bloggers gave me tons of voices to sample. Plus I found this at Sara Swears A Lot and laughed until I cried.

Have any cool tips/examples for developing or introducing characters?

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