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Posts Tagged peripheral characters
The strangers in our photos are the people we aren’t meant to notice. People we tune out. I never gave them a thought until I read about the British artist Polly Morgan, who, when she was a kid, went through family photos, cut out the walk-ons and made a gallery of them on her bedroom wall.
I love this idea. All these anonymous people, abundant as traffic and trees, appearing accidentally in our private photos.
Who were they? While Dave and I walked around the museum, the lady with the handbag was on her own mission. She had a chain of events that brought her to this place and she went on to do something else afterwards. What was it?
A lot of writers talk about the inspiration they get from overhearing conversations, but it seems to me that a picture is worth a thousand eavesdropped words. And our photo collections are full of them. The person you didn’t intend to take a picture of is waiting to have their story told.
This is a fun exercise on its own but it can also be useful for our novels. When we’re writing, we often find we have gaps in our story world. Sometimes we need a ‘purposeful nothing’ for a character to do when they go for a think, or a route they can take to the gym or work. Insignificant, low-key stuff, but if it’s not there the world of the story doesn’t feel real. The characters live in a void like an undecorated film set.
In daily life, we get used to tuning things out, which is perhaps why writers have to make a special effort to flesh out a world. Who’s that in the distance, sitting on a bench in a square in Fontainebleau, while I’m taking a photo of Dave? Did she need to think of a place to meet her best friend for a heart to heart?
So I’m ending this post with an exercise. Either tell me how you find insignificant but useful locations, or write a little piece about the strangers in the pictures here. Or do this with a pic of your own on your blog, link to it here – and we’ll all come and see. (That’s a blog hop, isn’t it? Never done one before.) Let the fun begin…
art, artists, authors, blog hop, bluebell railway, British artist, creating a story world, deepen your story, eavesdropping, having ideas, heart to heart, how to write a novel, Inspirations Scrapbook, My Memories of a Future Life, peripheral characters, photo collections, photographs, photography, photos, pictures, Polly Morgan, publishing, railway museum, Roz Morris, story prompt, unblocking, vacation, writer's block, writing, Writing Characters Who'll Keep Readers Captivated: Nail Your Novel, writing life, Writing Plots With Drama, Depth & Heart, writing prompt
- Southerners going north, the most romantic ruin and the town you can’t leave – interview at Chris Hill’s blog November 21, 2017
- ‘Music is the conduit through which we can discover ourselves’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Marcia Butler November 13, 2017
- Worldbuilding for SF and other fiction, reimagined for roleplayers. And pony books. Podcast at Fictoplasm November 11, 2017
- Indie publishing the 2017 way – video chat with sci-fi author Nick Cook November 7, 2017
- The pleasure of slow journeys and why we love to read – guest post at Isabel Costello’s Literary Sofa November 2, 2017
- ‘Tibetan oms and child prodigies’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Leslie Welch October 29, 2017
- ‘Writers are introverts who want to tell you a story but not make eye contact’: discuss. Interview at Jane Davis October 26, 2017