I’ve been thinking quite a bit about death and destruction lately. I grew up in a town that was rife with it, all of it. People died in fires and mine shafts. Car accidents and drownings. Suicides and accidental shootings.
There was a boy. I knew him since before I could remember. One day his best friend was killed in a car wreck, and I heard about it before he did. There was a basketball game that night at the high school. I hated those things, but for some reason I showed up, who knows why. I was watching when his mom pulled him out onto the front lawn. She told him what had happened. I watched his face change color and he collapsed on the grass. His mom helped him up, put her arm around his shoulders, and pretty much carried him back to the car. His eyes were rolling up and he kept forgetting to move his feet.
It’s 15 years later, and whenever I think of him, that’s what I remember. It was perhaps the worst moment in his life, and I was in the background like some voyeur. Still, it was a an amazing moment in it’s raw tragedy. I saw the inner workings of him for a little bit, and it has obviously stayed with me. He is much more real than he ever was before. More dimensional.
This is what I want to bring out in my characters. I want them to busily go about their lives and then I want something to happen that brings out their insides. I want them to bleed truthfulness. I want the facade of ordinariness to be ripped away so that the reader realizes the character is really so much more than previously thought. I want them to shine.