Thursday, February 16, 2012

This Week's Pep Talk

On Glasses, Shoes and Writing Prompts

Here we go again. After a few years of status quo, my glasses' prescription has changed, and I'll be getting new frames. How many styles have I sported through the years since I started wearing glasses at age thirteen (except for the period in which I wore contacts)?

Let's see. Dark frames. Light frames. Delicate frames. Austere frames. Nerdy frames. 1980s big frames (I refused to wear the '70s granny glasses), wire-rimmed, wireless. Pink, brown, gold, silver. The girl fitting me this time offered me bold glasses, pale glasses, black Clark Kent glasses. Ones with wide temple pieces, fat corners, bling along the sides, blue, red, plum. Whew.

Then for some reason I began thinking about the different styles of shoes I've worn through the years. The list is also long. Baby shoes, saddle shoes, Mary Janes and patent leather. Slip-ons, laced. Keds and tennies. Low heels, high heels, stacked heels. Penny loafers. Moccasins. Boots. Ballerina slippers. Cross trainers, walking shoes, flip flops, sandals. Green shoes (yes, once a long time ago), blue shoes, black, brown, tan, white and silver shoes. Naturalizers. Strapped, backless, open-toed. Comfort-Stride and non-slip soles.

Leap-frog with me here for a minute. What if, when brainstorming ideas for character development, we take two such divergent lists, shake them up, pair elements of each together--and discover something totally unforseen in that character? Granny glasses and patent leather? Bling and moccasins? Clark Kent and Keds? What images might come forth? What surprising personalities who come to life and shout, introduce me, tell my story!

It might be a revealing exercise, you think? The lists wouldn't have to be limited to glasses and shoes. What about hobbies and foods? Window shopping likes and most hated chore? Quirky family members and favorite books? Anything to get to know our characters better, and with that get creative with our stories.

So I tell myself:
 1. Shake it up.
 2. Look through a variety of lenses.
 3. Don't limit the possibilities.
 4. Run the distance with eyes wide-open.
 5. Explore the varieties.
 6. Fuel the imagination.
 7. Yet make it believable.
 8. Allow for individuality.
 9. Expect detours--and enjoy the adventure of it!
10. Deliver, even if you have to walk miles (whatever kind of shoe you wear) to get there.

This, at least, is my pep talk to myself for the week. And to think it started with glasses and shoes.

Have you had to give yourself a pep talk lately? What did it sound like? Any writing prompts that inspired you to move forward?



  1. Oh, this was soooo good! While reading about the glasses and then the other things, you brought back some good memories:) Linking the idea to character development is great!

  2. I love this idea, especially for peripheral characters, the ones who are important to the story for some reason but not critical enough to rate a full description. If I dress my librarian in stiletto heels, everyone immediately knows there's more to her than a love of literature.

    This is a great way to have fun with writing! Thanks, Kenda!

  3. Thanks, Catherine :-)

    And Peggy, you make a vivid point with your example, that librarian in her stilettos. Another proof of show, don't tell. Love it. Thank you!

  4. I love this idea! I used to work at my Dad's shoe store as a teen, so I have plenty of shoe brands and styles to mix with characters and whatnot. Great pep talk, I'll remember this one!

    Happy weekend!

  5. Wow--I didn't realize such a burst of creativity was behind the process of getting new glasses. :) Your list is inspiring, and I think it can relate to life in general!