In the past six months, I’ve had my hair blown out straight a few times and at first I loved it, but then discovered that I don’t feel like me without curly hair. That got me thinking about ways to reveal character.
What’s a small change that would make your protagonist uncomfortable… not even uncomfortable, just… not quite themselves? Curly to straight hair, putting on a suit for the first time, a tie, or someone buttoned up going too casual for who they are? What’s a little change you can have them make that would reveal volumes about who they are by their reaction to it?
What about you, the writer? Now how can you take that feeling and translate it for your characters?
Last night, I heard Fr. Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries speak (he’s very good) and he told a story of one of his former gang members getting his first suit and going on an airplane for the first time to a conference in DC followed by dinner at the White House. Okay, that’s really big, but what I’m talking about was this:
when he came out of the dressing room and saw himself in the mirror for the first time in a suit, he could only stare at himself in the mirror, his mouth half open.
That is a great moment. That reveals character. You don’t have to go on endlessly – just give us a moment.
P.S. Please do something nice and click on the link above to donate to help get gang members off the street and into jobs. If you’re in L.A., go eat at the Homegirl Cafe or buy Homeboy Salsa and chips at Ralph’s in Southern California for your Super Bowl party. Thanks.