Monday, August 4, 2014

In which characters are multi-faceted

I don’t know what it is about hotels, but they never seem to provide a good wi-fi connection in the rooms. Whether the Hyatt or a Super 8, I never get a good signal. Because of this, I end up going to the lobby, where the signal is strongest, to check emails and other social media.  Blogging doesn’t get done because of time constraints.

It was in this state of annoyance that I found myself in the beautiful Cody Hotel lobby in Cody, Wyoming. (I highly recommend this fabulous hotel!) It’s a beautiful lobby, very spacious with lots of over-sized chairs and couches to sink into. I found a corner in the little library nook. The light was off, but light from the main part of the lobby spilled into the library and provided just the right ambiance. I settled into a comfortable chair and put my feet up on a luxurious leather ottoman to recharge my batteries during a hectic family vacation.

Or so I thought.

Cody Hotel Library Nook (
That morning, I’d used that same spot to connect to my email and my quiet little sanctuary was invaded by a spry couple in their 70s seeking to use the hotel’s only guest computer. That evening, the same couple came barreling in and found me in the same spot. I bet they thought I’d been there all day.

They didn’t greet me, just came in, flipped on the light, and created enough of a distraction to ruin my quiet respite. As a writer, I observe everything about everyone. The word that came to me about these two was “entitled” and “privileged.”

They were dressed very well. He in a tweed blazer and khaki dockers with penny loafers, and she in a cute pant suit with a blue jacket. She was petite and he was tall and slim. I figured they’d spent their lives as professionals of some sort. Perhaps he was a doctor. The way they held themselves and interacted said “money.” 

Piano at The Cody
 For about 30 minutes they wrestled with printing their plane tickets and scurried away.

Leaving the light on.

I sighed, got up, and turned off the light.

Now, these were probably two of the nicest people you’d ever meet. But the way they just flipped on the light sent a message: we are of more importance than you. Maybe it’s just my low self-image, but wouldn’t most people ask before flipping on a light? And wouldn’t most people turn it off afterwards? 

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Perhaps they had too much on their minds. Maybe they were stressed about a family member. Possibly they were traveling because of a family tragedy instead of pleasure. Or, perhaps, they are just used to getting their own way, doing what they want, when they want, how they want. Then again, maybe they saw me as an irrelevant part of their existence. A peon not worthy of respect or consideration.


Who knows? As a writer, I can imagine all sorts of scenarios. This may be why I’m careful not to judge people’s motives. I know there's a story behind everything someone does. Behavior is communication. People behave the way they’ve been conditioned to behave. Their background educationally and socially has a great bearing on how they interact with the world.

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This is why as writers, we create characters who are multi-dimensional. No one is perfect, and people react to their circumstances based on their past experiences. Every character should have a past the writer is aware of so that the dialogue and interactions with others is deeper and richer in a story.

What do you think of the little couple I observed? Do you think they were rude or just distracted? Do you think they had money or just had great taste in clothes? Create a story using them as the main characters. Where were they going with that plane ticket?

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