What Should Writers Steal?

I was sitting at a desk doing volunteer work for an organization I belong to, and sitting not far away were a group of six or seven middle age-or older-women at a long table holding a monthly meeting. I could not hear anything specific in their discussion, but since they were in my direct line of vision and since they were preoccupied with whatever they were discussing I was an unobtrusive observer.

And I could spy. And I could steal without being noticed.

One of the women had a hairstyle best described as worn-out Brillo pad. She chewed gum with intense fierceness, unlike a cow who enjoys her cud with gourmet bliss. At one point the woman got up and left the building, coming back about six minutes later. I believe she had gone out for a cigarette; she had that ‘air’ about her. And she had, what I assumed, was fresh cud-excuse me-gum in her mouth. She went back to her seat and resumed her chew. A short while later a man and woman came in.

The man wore a bright knit cap, knitted with the colors of the rainbow, plus colors that existed only on the cap, in a horizontal pattern that encircled his head. The man bent over to look in a display case. I noticed a perfect circle a few inches in diameter cut out of the top of the cap. He was bald-at least in that spot. I imagined that if he wore the cap in summer, he might have a cute little tan spot at the top of his head. I didn’t ask him about the strange circle at the top of the cap for I didn’t want to break my observation. A spy can’t make contact with his quarry. You understand right?

The point is not why he had cutout that small circle in his knit cap, nor is the point about what the woman was doing with her gum, but what you can steal from around you. What you can use in describing characters in your story.

When you observe people, what they wear, how they walk, anything that stands out, you make a mental note, or like me, write it down in my small pocket notebook-when nobody you are observing can see you of course. You are the spy, you are the thief, and you must be discreet.

Character traits, odd little tics and quirks, make your characters more believable and identifiable to your readers. When your reader sees the character in their minds they are more involved with your story.

My observations of people I have stolen from and transformed into fictional characters can be found in my e-Books on Amazon. The descriptions of the books can be found in my header.

 

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Why I Created Three Fictional Characters-And How

It started so strangely.

There was a real person named Charlie Faust, 1880-1915, who once pitched for the New York Giants in 1911. Sort of.  A biography of Charlie, though much of his life is unknown, was written by Gabriel Schecter, called Victory Faust.

But who was Charlie?

That is what baseball people wanted to know. He was strange, and though many of his famous Giant teammates talked about him, and wrote about him, Charlie remains elusive. He could have been the most naïve country hick in history. Or he could have had mental issues. Perhaps-in the language of the day-retarded. But nobody knows for sure.

A few people have tried to write a fictional story of his life, but according to Mr. Schecter, nobody had. So a few years ago I decided to explore Charlie. To tell his story I used a rookie fresh off a Storden, Minnesota farm. Chet Koski was born in 1888 and in 1911 at the time of the story he is 22, his birthday being in October. He is not the rube that Charlie is, but it is his first time in a big city, and in a true sense it is his coming of age story, though by stories end, Chet does not fully bloom.

So we see Charlie through Chet who ends up as Charlie’s friend and at times guardian angel.

Now a young man in New York needs a girlfriend and she is Eveleen Sullivan, born in Ireland, 1890. Red hair, green eyes, she is all Irish. Her dreams are of the Broadway stage. When we meet her she is doing small parts, mostly in the chorus. She has another suitor, a British actor, who I will say little about. I won’t say he is a cad, but there is something about him I don’t trust.

Chet and Eveleen, like any young couple whose dreams lie in different direction, are unsure of themselves, of each other, and of any future. They might have a chance together, but then again, who knows.

The e-Novel is a satire on fame and celebrity. Charlie after all, though he is more a good luck omen, like a rabbits foot, or a horseshoe, becomes famous, not only in New York where he appears on Broadway within weeks of his mysterious arrival in New York, but all around baseball and the cities he sort of played in.

The baseball action and the scores are accurate. I researched the season and the games. Since Chet is fictional, I substituted him for a real player from time to time, but though he is fictional, what he does is what really happened.

Not only do we meet Christy Mathewson, Rube Marquard, manager John McGraw and other Giant players, we also meet Bat Masterson, George M. Cohan, and sportswriter Damon Runyon.

I said in the heading there were three fictional characters and I have mentioned only two, Chet and Eveleen. The third is Clancy. At the time of this story she is eleven years old and is not in Loonies in the Dugout. She shows up at the age of 22 in Loonies in Hollywood. She is the daughter of a rich California banker, and a carpe diem flapper with an extroverted personality. She is, as anyone would say, a handful. She was to be a plot device, nothing more; enter and leave the story in one scene, and a brief one at that. But she dominated the scene and as writers know, a character, yes a fictional one, can force their way into a story. She has become my favorite character. As I said she is a handful. 

And of course Clancy became friends with Eveleen and Chet, helping their murder investigations in two published books and one mystery in progress.

Though the three characters appear in two stories, Silent Murder being the second, you do not have to read them in sequence as each is a stand alone story.

You can find them on Amazon here. Loonies in the Dugout, with two four star reviews, only 99 cents.

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