Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Caving in

We all need a change of setting. This includes our beloved characters.

They do what we tell them to (most of the time) and perform as expected (most of the time) but to really get to know them sometimes it's interesting to step outside the story and see what they would do if put somewhere completely out of their element. These scenes don't belong in the novel necessarily, but are for your reference, to dig into your character's mind.

I spent my weekend in a car for seven hundred miles and my saturday night in a cave. While the car part wasn't a complete change of setting for me, I can count the number of nights I've slept in a cave on one finger. It was an awesome experience.

I was tired, muddy and sore from our wild cave tour and glad to be warm in my sleeping bag in the moist fifty-four degree air. Yet, sleep eluded me as I lay there with the metal bar of my rudimentary bunk digging into my shoulder blades.

To entertain myself, I wondered what some of my characters would do if they had to spend a night in the cave.

Mr. MC - Would enjoy the moist air and the natural surroundings because he's always complaining he doesn't get outside much and his favorite place is by water. He'd be grateful to have a bunk rather than having to sleep on the floor.

Ms. MC - Would think it was cold and would bitch about the endless noise of the waterfall that wouldn't let her think. She'd also complain about the bunk, wake up in a foul mood and take it out on poor Mr. MC.

Mr. Secondary - Would be annoyed that he was stuck in a cave with seventy-six other men and only four women and no privacy to make it any fun.

Would they enjoy crawling over rocks, mud and water, on their bellies?

Mr. MC - likely wouldn't fit in some of the places we went. He's a larger statured sort of fellow, but he'd try if Ms. MC ordered him to. Enjoy it? No.

Ms. MC - Hell no. She'd order Mr. Secondary to blow the tunnel larger so she could walk through, and she'd only bother if there was something great to be had at the end. Sightseeing is not her thing. As much as she likes nature, she prefers it hot and humid.

Mr. Secondary, would bribe someone to get in line behind the female in the group so he could appreciate the view as they crawled along.

No matter where I go, my characters go with me. They are ever so much more entertaining than counting sheep.


  1. LOL love that last line!
    I should try this more often...

  2. My son would love to sleep in a cave! He's big into survivalism.

    This is a great idea for a way to explore different sides of our characters!

  3. Angela - my son is eleven, and he wasn't thrilled with me for signing him up for this boy scout trip, but he ended up loving it. Nothing like some mother and son bonding while lighting each other's way in extremely confined, muddy spaces. :)

  4. Wow! Interesting idea, Jean.

    Someone in a writing group once suggested interviewing your characters, which I found helped me to reveal traits I didn't know were there. But this sounds like another great way to get into their heads.


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