Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Moment #48: a writing prompt for your work-in-progress

(If you’ve already read this then skip past all the italicized blah-di-blah and start writing.) Monday Moments are writing prompts for your work-in-progress. They are questions that come from my experiences and are my favorite way to find out more about my characters. I find I learn a lot. Some of it I use. Some of it I don’t. But I always, always get to know my character(s) better just by answering the question. I hope you do too. )

Last week I attended a holiday, school concert. There's almost nothing cuter than a group of 6 to 8 year olds singing, except when one of their two-year old, little sisters dances with joy in front of the stage to every song. *melting* Too sweet.

Two classes of fourth graders followed my daughter's group. As a writer, observing kids is always fascinating, and this age of children in a concert setting didn't disappoint. It's such a mix of size and shape and style.

There was one particular girl who stood out that evening (to me, at least). She obviously had some color in her hair, wore a bit of makeup, dressed in a black dress, and wore heels. While most of the kids, the girls in particular, still looked much like kids, she looked a bit grown up...too grown up for me. That said, I'm sure as she got ready and arrived to her concert, she felt pretty and grown up. I could see it in the way she smiled and stood tall. But, it made me feel a bit sad.

A few songs into her concert, the piano accompaniment started the intro of a new song and one child belted out a note too soon. I'm sure you can guess which child it was. Of course, she was sandwiched between two boys: one in his jeans and t-shirt spending much time being silly, and a kid in his jacket and glasses looking smart, in more ways than one. Both boys sent whispers her way after her goof. I knew the smile on her face was now one meant to disguise the embarrassment she was feeling, she was laughing it off.

But then an even bigger embarassment: those heels got the best of her! Down she went, from her spot on the top riser, right into the person in front of her. I can not even begin to tell you how this pained me. She'd already been embarrassed once, but now she had to stand herself back up between those two boys, who again sent whispers her way. Another smile was on her face, but I had a view of her from top to bottom. That smile up top was forced into place and her feet...well, let's just say she shrunk about two inches as she rolled onto the sides of feet until, I'm sure, her ankles could not take it another minute and she had to stand back up on those heels. All the while she continued singing as she swiped tears away from her eyes.

I so felt for her.

When did your character go from feeling their best to feeling their worst?


Prof. Watermelon said...

This reminds me of my high school graduation when the girl in front of me tripped on her gown and landed face first on the ground. The crowd erupted in "AHH's and OHH's". Some people even had the nerve to laugh out loud.

I was recently friended by this girl on FB, and I instantly remembered her humiliating experience and still felt sad for her.

She too had stood up, walked the rest of the way on stage, grabbed her diploma and took her seat. That took an incredible amount of courage. I think I would have ran offstage and cried behind the bleachers!

C. N. Nevets said...

Jolie, at the risk of hyperbole, this prompt really did help clarify what the heck I'm doing in my genre. I explained the process in my blog. I won't be so crass as to link to it, but you can click through to it from my profile if you want to see what I said.

In psychological suspense, it's a whole other kind of "best-to-worst" than what you're talking about it, but the basic idea still resonates well. Thanks so much!

Deb Markanton said...

Being in grade school is humiliating enough in so many ways. Things like that just make it even more painful. I could feel your compassion in the telling of this story. I love how you relate it to character development.