A recent debate on the public school system got a bit heated. Well, a lot heated. In the middle of the heat, I said ‘Just because someone has an opposing viewpoint, don’t assume they are uneducated on the subject.’
Afterwards, when things had cooled and both sides apologized and laughed together, I went home and had a little bubble of pride go up. Because I’d stood up for myself? Nope, I can do that easily.
Why then, you may ask?
Because I came up with the perfect thing to say, at the right time.
I didn’t have to go home and think, in the wee hours of the night, ‘dang, I should have said…’ or daydream a new version of the event where I say exactly the right thing. I actually did it for a change.
Normally that only happens in writing. Which, it dawned on me, is one of the most fun parts of writing. Our characters will say for us the things we wish we’d thought of. Or say the things we’d never have the courage to say. Such freedom.
Of course characters don’t always have the perfect response. To be real they need to stutter and stumble and go away wishing they’d acted differently. That makes them human because it’s what we all do. But at the same time I do love letting a character do the talking for me.
My work in progress at the moment has a female protagonist who’s dialog appears to be channeling my husband. For those who know him, you know his ‘Art-isms’ can be rather…interesting, shall we say? I’m having more fun writing dialog for this character than I’ve had in a long time. I simply sit back and think, ‘what would Art say?’ Actually, at the risk of offending someone, in my above school debate, Art, defending his opinion, would have said, ‘I’m not just pulling a hair out of my ass here!’
So maybe I didn’t come up with the perfect response after all.
I think I’ll go add that ‘hair’ line to the work in progress…