A couple of posts ago, I wrote about how characters are revealed in the details of their lives. I’m not the only writer obsessed with SHOW versus TELL. Anton Chekhov famously said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” As part of my determination to SHOW more than TELL the reader, I’ve been contemplating cars, bars and other bits & pieces of real life.
In my contemporary Candy’s Monsters series, there’s a dance between the solid, factual reality of the here & now, and the monstrous. The fanciful, supernatural, paranormal aspects work only because the real life details ring true.
That being said, I’m not an expert on everything — far from it. So I’m happy to report that I have some very smart and well-informed friends. I have several friends with knowledge of cars and as a “car-free/care-free” New Yorker, I haven’t driven in years and that was a rental on a vacation.
I’ve often call upon my car-people to determine what kind of car a particular character would drive. Just the other day, I asked my best green technology expert/car owner to help me figure out what kind of electric car one of the characters would drive (a Volt). Two motorcycle aficionados concurred on another character’s vehicle choice — that was good. And I’ve often double-checked the drink choice of a character with a bartender friend. As a lightweight in the drinking department, it’s good to have an expert on hand when first hand experimenting might simply be too much booze.
The depth and breadth of some of the responses I get to a brief query is amazing. I asked a friend what kind of camera a particular character would have during a specific period of time. He gave me several viable choices complete with links to images and there it was — exactly the right camera. The one I had in mind, but could not think of the name.
So here’s a shout out to some of the experts I’ve tapped for those details that help SHOW something essential about the character without spelling it out to the reader.
Lew, Tom, Shanna, Chuck, Steven, Julia & Lisa — Thank YOU!