It took me most of my life to realize I use a conversational style in my household that I call "passing ships". (Actually my husband pointed it out.) I talk on the move, beginning a question on one side of the house and finishing it on the other. A bad habit, and I'm working to correct it. It is especially interesting because each week I spend hours on the phone talking with clients and I love giving them my full attention. No double-tasking, no daydreaming, just my full attention. And yet I've been lazy with my family.
I thought about where my "passing ships" habit originated. Easy answer: my first family. When I was growing up--the youngest of five kids in a two-story house--multiple conversations running simultaneously were the norm, and just as often no one but the speaker was listening. That's not to say we weren't a caring family, but like all families we had our own style of dealing with intimacy. Ours (at least in my experience) was disconnected.
Narrative is all about patterns of connection and disconnection. When you muse about your stories this week, consider your characters--the ways they connect, or pretend to connect, or work to avoid connection, or connect only superficially. Capture moments of connection and disconnection vividly, in action, conversation, thought, and concrete detail. Watch your characters' patterns unfold--and then discover the moments when they break those patterns. For that matter, watch your own patterns--in life and on the page.
Labels: character development, elements of craft, free writing course, free writing tips, writing basics, writing craft, writing exercise