What’s bad for you is good for your fictional characters

Fictional characters need identifying traits. It goes beyond whether a character smokes a pipe, has an eye twitch, constantly primping hair, tattoos, vices,  their fears, bad habits and on and on. The character should also have things happen to them that can also be used to develop him or her and what better way than to steal from your own experience.

I will use an example of my own life. What you are about to read is from chapter four in a murder mystery I am currently writing. What happened is self explanatory.

I quote: Eveleen was in San Francisco for the weekend. Thanks to Eveleen I eat healthy foods, but left to my own devices with my conscious in Frisco, I am in big trouble. It takes too much time to prepare dishes, and then you have to wash everything. I must confess it is too much work and I am too lazy. The first day I ate a dozen rolls with butter and some grapes, but not much else; the rolls were not eaten all at once mind you, but throughout the day. I used the same approach on day two, though I ate no rolls. It was worse. I had a craving for chocolate pie, so I bought one from a bakery and, like the rolls, ate the pie periodically throughout the day. By nightfall I could feel sugar racing through my veins. I let the jitters play out before going to bed, though I was not that tired. I curled up on my right side in a fetal position, but after a few minutes my stomach was gurgling. It felt like a volcano about to blow, so I sat upright and breathed slowly until the lava flow subsided. Back in my fetal position, the rumbling, grumbling, gurgling started again. This went on four or five times. I gave up, took a blanket and pillow and sat on the sofa, leaning back, and curling into a couch version of a fetal position. I am not sure I slept as I seemed to be in a nether land, neither awake nor asleep. I won’t tell you about my morning bowel movement, nor any others during the day but I will say I had no appetite, not morning, noon, or night. I am aware I have this food disorder, but have trouble stopping myself, and when I found two dozen chocolate chip cookies Evy had baked and hidden in a cupboard I knew I had to get out of the house. I don’t like having dinner by myself, though have no trouble with breakfast or lunch, and since I hate preparing dinner and washing dirty dishes-though I will dry for Evy- I called Clancy to see if she would dine out with me this evening and thankfully for my health she agreed.

Every story needs a plot, but a rest is also needed from time to time and when there is a lull in the action, paint a picture using your experiences and give it to a character. We learn he loves sweets and rolls, does not eat well when his wife is away, and hates having anything to do in the kitchen other than eat, though he will dry dishes, so he’s a helpful husband. It is part of his character portrait that came from the writers experience.

I used life experiences in two novels taking place in 1911 and 1922 and also in my collection of short stories where there is a prominent cemetery where I did have some interesting experiences and used them is stories. Feel free to search and guess.

Loonies in the Dugout: http://www.amazon.com/Loonies-Dugout-Terry-Nelson-ebook/dp/B00EEN7YNA/ref=la_B00EEVHN38_1_1/186-4357572-4510322?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394178444&sr=1-1

Loonies In Hollywood: http://www.amazon.com/Loonies-Hollywood-Terry-Nelson-ebook/dp/B00EHK4OJ2/ref=la_B00EEVHN38_1_2/186-4357572-4510322?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394178444&sr=1-2

Cemetery Tales and other Phantasms: http://www.amazon.com/Cemetery-Tales-other-Phantasms-Nelson-ebook/dp/B00G9JND9Q/ref=la_B00EEVHN38_1_3/186-4357572-4510322?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394178444&sr=1-3

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