Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What I Forgot

Okay, I've been watching the general masses for character ideas. Yeah, I'm looking to start a new story, and I need a character to do that.

So I went camping last week (I swear today will be the last day I draw a parallel from that trip. Maybe.) And I had to pack up a lot of stuff to do that. I had lists on my lists. And of course, I forgot some things.

1. The red vines = the ultimate travelling food. I spent about 13 hours in a car to get to my destination and the lack of red vines was torture!

2. Grape bubble gum. I adore bubble gum, and chew it every day. Grape is my favorite flavor. No gum in the car makes Elana very crabby.

3. Toothpaste. Do I need to elaborate? (In my defense, we were out and I was going to buy more. I didn't.)

4. Ingredients for Rice Krispy treats. It was one of my food assignments and I failed. Le sigh. We ate cookies two days in a row instead. Lamesauce.

5. My crit group stuff. I forgot to email it out to my live group. I forgot to post it for my online group. Double fail.

So I forgot a lot of things. As we were loading the car, I told my kids that whatever we forgot, we could buy (yeah, see #3 above, that clearly didn't work) and that we didn't need it. As the drive progressed and I realized all the crap I forgot, my daughter (five years old) says, "Mom! Forget about it. We don't need any of that stuff."

So I decided that my new MC is going to be forgetful. Like, majorly, and it's going to cause some bigger problems than dirty teeth and the world's longest drive without treats.

What do you do to find a unique character trait for your MC? And what have you forgotten to do today??

51 comments:

Cheree said...

I'm a waitress, so interesting characters are easy to find... what I've forgotten, does doing my uni assignment count (I've actually done the naughty procerastination and haven't got anything done... whoops).

Em-Musing said...

Hmm? Can't answer your questions because my brain is too busy thinking about what I may forget on my trip to RWA National Conference tomorrow, but at least my mouth is working and it laughed while reading your post today. Hilarious!

Natalie Aguirre said...

My main character is too impulsive. And of course it gets her into trouble.

I haven't forgotten anything yet today. We'll see how I do when I get my daughter off for her 2 day trip with a friend and go to work.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Dude, what is/are red vines? You're gonna drive me to Goggle this mystery.

I forgot that I need new shoes for RWA. And some new clothes. And a perfect pitch. And I leave tomorrow, so um, CRAP!

Happy Tuesday.

Aubrie said...

A forgetful MC will make for an interesting story!

I don't know what red vines are either. It made me think of some type of wine!

Erinn said...

My main character is PERFECT, just like me. *swoon over my awesomeness*

I also forgot how to make coffee this morning, or Kuerig is broken. One or the other.

Scott said...

I just sort of wing it and see what happens. I just had a fill in character leap off the page at me . . . while swinging a cast iron skillet. Yeah, pretty frightening . . . for the person in the book she was swinging the cast iron skillet at. This one character moment morphed into the character always talking with her hands. Trust me on that one.

Picture: friends and I out at a bar, one friend talks with his hands, and, for emphasis extends hand straight out to the side and literally hits someone in the face. So, maybe that moment stuck in my subconscious and moved forward as this character began to take on a life of her own.

Oh, and bummer on that toothpaste thing. : )

S

Magan said...

That is the most creative way that I have ever heard someone figure out their main character's traits! Kudos! Sometimes my characters just tell me what they want, or my beta readers or editors say "Ummmm your character wouldn't do that..."

Does this mean I have to go camping to come up with character traits?

Heather Kelly said...

Before leaving for a long trip, I drive the car once around the blog. For some reason, my brain reviews all the things that I have forgotten then, and remembers. It's crafty, my brain.

Yesterday we drove 40 minutes away to a museum that was closed on Mondays. In order to salvage the situation, we drove to a petting zoo, which I didn't realize had a water park feature. (Seriously. My bad. What petting zoo has a water park?) No bathing suits. Oh, well. It still was SO much fun!

Mary said...

I check out the library, the parks and especially coffee shops. Hoping I don't get zapped by lightening but I've found some real goodies in church.

As long as you don't forget to bring your daughter home you're still ok. lol

Palindrome said...

I don't usually actively search for a unique trait. It just kind of forms with the character. As soon as I get a name and write a bit of dialogue featuring them, it just happens.

I have forgotten all my bad thoughts at home. I will have a better day than yesterday. I WILL have a better day than yesterday.

Piedmont Writer said...

I think having a forgetful MC is a rocking idea. Go you!

Jaydee Morgan said...

Love the way you used your trip and it's forgotten needs to come up with a great character trait for your next character! I hope I haven't forgotten anything today - but the day is still early.

Michelle McLean said...

Ugh, my computer crashed in the middle of replying lol I was saying that if you needed to talk to a forgetfulness queen, give me a call. I'm HORRIBLE lol From forgetting wet clothes in the washer to going into a room and totally forgetting what I was there for, or remembering and then getting sidetracked, or putting water on the stove to boil but forgetting to turn the burner on (or forgetting I was boiling water until the water is all gone and the pan is burning) - to yesterday's crowning moment...going to the dr for a shot and forgetting I was majorly allergic to some medication. Oops. *sigh* My forgetfulness has my husband's eyes on permanent roll :D (p.s. if you this message twice, delete one) ;-D

Christine Fonseca said...

Forgetful is good! I don't actually look for my character quirks...they find me. All the time. I'll get an idea for a storyline and then the character who wants to tell me the story will eventually find me!

AND dude, I practiclly forrget my name these days. Too much clutter in my head.

lynnrush said...

I LOVE the idea of a forgetful character.
That'll led to a lot of fun situations!

One of my MCs is deaf in one ear. I liked exploring that. Another is blind for the first part of the book (because her jump between realms got botched) I liked writing those two MCs for sure.

I'm not sure how you survived at all without red vines.
OMG.

Jennie Englund said...

Your forgetful character will be fun -- and funny!

Is she forgetful because she's kind of a creative genius? Because she's busy doing other stuff? Because she doesn't care?

LeishaMaw said...

I love the forgetfull character idea. It sounds so full of lovely complications.

Um, what have I forgotten to do lately, back up my WIP. Yup. It was bad. Cry for me.

Regina said...

That will be a great trait to give your new character. It will bring, interesting, and no doubt funny things to the story.

Today I forgot my lunch and have to run out and get something to eat before the big meeting. Stuff happens. I think it happens to me a lot though. lol

ali said...

ROFL! I've forgotten to get ready today. I'm thinking I might just embrace the forgetfulness today. :D

Lisa_Gibson said...

Ah, a fellow list maker. I too make lists and sometimes forget where I put my list. Usually I'm good with the whole list thing though. I tend to procrastinate. Oh, I need to make that call - it can wait. Two days later, I have to say "okay, make the freekin' call". I'm just that way. ;) I can be forgetful at times too.

Nicole said...

A forgetful MC sounds awesome! I'm totally that way. If I don't write something down then I'm most likely going to forget it. My current MC's quirk--she randomly makes otter sounds--came from me. I do that a lot so I just transported it onto my character. It makes me feel less weird if someone else in the world makes weird otter noises too, even if it's just in the fictional world.

Eric said...

LOL, you're going to turn into a red vine. Not that I blame you. Those things are so awesome. I really like this idea though, so much so that its given me an idea for tomorrow's post. Thanks, Elana.

Kelly said...

We left hastily on Thursday for our current road trip (we were supposed to leave Friday but decided to leave Thursday). Anyway, I packed quickly and we left the house. Twice within three minutes we were back in the driveway and I was running in to get something I forgot. We got to the cabin and I realized I also forgot my stepmom's bday present!! She had mine ready and waiting! I felt so bad!
Life is great fodder for book ideas. Definitely!

Patricia A. Timms said...

I'm hoping your list of forgets will help my list as I get ready to travel 600 miles by car on Thursday.

Lately though, I forget what day it is when I wake up in the morning. I mean to the point that if my husband is still in bed at 5am and not out training for his Ironman or working I scream like there's a stranger in my bed. Disturbing, really.

My current MC has a whole memory problem. It can be fun. Good luck with your MC.

Jai Joshi said...

Most of the time my characters pop into my head and as I sit down to write notes about them I discover new things. Like what moment of their life taught them the most important lesson. Or if they're jealous of their sibling. Or if they have commitment issues. Or if they're anorexic or not. The personality traits just become clearer the more I write my notes until I know the person completely. And even then they still surprise me.

Jai

Krispy said...

I don't usually look for a unique trait. They sort of just pop up.

I have a nagging feeling that I've forgotten something today, but I can't remember what... BUT your red vines for road trip snack idea is fantastic! Must go get some before I head off this weekend! :D

Jessica said...

Sometimes I people watch, sometimes I use character traits from my own life, for example I'm thinking of having a character it gets lost pretty often.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, that is so me! I am the queen of forgetful - and my family never fails to point it out to me! :-)

I usually steal qualities from people I know for my character idiosyncrasies.

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh I can so relate to the forgetfulness factor! I recently traveled to a writer's conference and double-checked everything before I left. Toothpaste, deodorant, extra underwear, laptop, I even brought a printer just in case! I EVEN ironed my shirts so I would look semi-professional. and then forgot to pack them.

Ha! (good thing I had a little extra time to do some shopping after I realized my whoops)

Anyway, I think forgetfulness is a wonderful character trait. I esp. like character traits that are a bit of a contradiction. for instance, I'm a geographer, but I get lost constantly. I have no sense of direction. I figure that's why I ended up in geographer; I subconciously realized I would get no where in life without a map.

KarenG said...

You should go camping more often, sounds like it's full of helpful analogies! I love your idea of making a MC forgetful. Too many MC faults are ones that make us NOT like them! Forgetful is good. Readers will be accepting of forgetful. It can even be endearing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I would never forget toothpaste, but then again, I'd never go camping either.
My newest main character is headstrong, determined, and stubborn.

The English Writer said...

I people watch and fantasise!!

kathrynjankowski said...

A 13-hour drive and no little stores on the way, not even a gas station with its outrageously priced goodies?

Did you leave the planet?

My MC is impulsive, which causes unintentional mayhem, but her quick thinking also solves many a predicament.

Elana Johnson said...

Dude, you guys! Red vines are the superior cousin to Twizzlers. If you haven't had them, you MUST ORDER SOME RIGHT THIS SECOND.

They will change your life.

Seriously.

And usually my characters are dull and boring and I don't find them until the second draft. I'm attempting (probably lamely) to curb that in the first draft. Cross your fingers for me. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

We travel a bit, so I've forgotten brilliant things like packing underwear. Once I forgot toothpaste too. Another time I forgot toothbrushes, but managed to remember the toothpaste.

At least you inspired yourself.

I don't remember what I've forgotten to do today.

Gail said...

Holy Cow what were you guys doing up at 5 in the morning? I have an insane family so that's where most of my Character's come from. and I don't think I've forgotten anything, but the day is still yound.

Paul Greci said...

I forget what I've forgotten.

I was at an outdoor concert on Sunday and this baby, still in the crawling phase kept making a bee-line for the stage, and that got me thinking about character.

Donna Hole said...

Seriously Elana; how could you NOT stop at the first building remotely resembling a store for the Red Vines? I cannot get through a half hour trip let alone 13 without them.

Toothpaste is overrated while camping - just ask my kids - but red vines and Krispy squares; shame on you.

I love your daughter's attitude though. Kids are great like that, huh?

Your idea for a forgetful character is fabulous. I find my character inspiration everywhere. I'm obsessed with watching people, and am always working it out in my head to see how I can use specific traits - flaws and talents alike - to make my characters come to life. Sometimes I write character profiles with a mix of differences to see what might work, then create a need for that character in a WIP.

So much fun.

Good luck with your new story idea!

.........dhole

Oh, what have I forgotten lately - beside visiting your blog on a regular basis? To complete the third revision on the short story a magazine asked me for. If I get it right this time, maybe they'll publish it. So, I gues not that you've reminded me, I better get right on it. :)

Carolyn V. said...

I'm working on changing one of my characters in my current wip right now. My crit group hates him. He has no redeeming qualities. So I am trying to make him nicer.

I've forgotten my deodorant this morning. I know, gross. I ran back and applied three coats just to be sure I didn't stink everyone out. =)

The Golden Eagle said...

I try to go with the flow. Sometimes I'll have the MC traits down before I start writing, and sometimes they'll come out when I'm writing the outline or beginning the story.

Nichole Giles said...

Um. Excuse me. Are you saying you're modeling your next MC after moi? Because, that is the story of my life. But it's not all bad. We have been to Walmarts all over the country. They almost recognize me now.

Today? I'm sure I'm forgetting lots of stuff. I'll probably remember it tomorrow.

Jemi Fraser said...

We camped a lot when the kids were little. I have master camping lists (divided into categories) on spreadsheets. And I still ALWAYS manage to forget something.

Hopefully you did have the ingredients for s'mores!

Jay said...

Well given the red vines, the rice crispy treats, the bubble gum, etc., I'd say the toothpaste was critical. ;-)

I watch people to find a unique character trait. I love how in Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, Barty Crouch Jr constantly smacks his lips in a weird, perverted sort of way. I wonder where JK Rowling got that idea?

And today, I forgot to... Hmm. I forgot what I forgot to do. I guess I'll figure it out tomorrow when somebody yells at me.

beth said...

When we were little, my parents were big into the epic road trips. I'm talking cross-country, drive for ten hours, camp in the woods, drive for ten more hours epic road trips. My mom always packed a ziploc baggy full of snacks for me and my bro--mostly consisting of pretzels and gummy treats. I can't travel without those now. My husband thought it was weird that I spent so much time packing food when we left for our honeymoon, but he was thanking me for the gummy treats within the hour, lemme tell you.

Maurice Mitchell said...

For some reason I can't do a road trip without beef jerky. I need to counteract the massive amounts of sugar I consume to stay alert. As for the MC, is forgetfulness really a character trait or is it a personality flaw?

Terresa said...

I forgot to shower. And then I forgot to write. Double fail today moi.

There's always tomorrow. :)

Dominique said...

I don't even know where most of my character traits come from. Now that you mentioned it, I looked over at my old WIP where my MC is majorly Catholic, and I realized I don't even remember where that came from. She's just always been that way. On the other hand, in my current WIP, my MC is good with a knife, which came up in draft 1 someone needed to accuse her of murder. Necessity, it seems, is the mother of invention on my end.

Heather said...

I love this! What a great way to come up with a character. A forgetful character sounds like a lot of fun! Hopefully we'll be reading their story soon!

lisanowak said...

I do what you did. I take a trait in myself that I can poke fun at then expand on it. Usually the traits have two sides. A character's a hard worker, but tends to be obsessive. Another's very insightful, but leans toward being to be too emotional. Looking at real people (as opposed to a list of qualities)to come up with character traits makes the characters seem fuller and more realistic.

Rhyanna said...

I find character traits from neighbors, strangers on the bus, etc.
I'm always forgetting something. Like vacuuming, as I get in 'the writing zone.'

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