Sunday, July 12, 2009

Visual Writing Prompt: 7-12-09

My son used to work at the Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary, a rescue zoo. He loved working there with the animals. He eventually had to quit because they didn’t pay enough and he had to eat and pay rent. But he still goes back to volunteer when he can.

He has interesting tales to tell, like the monkeys who like to throw feces. And the picture that’s kept in the keepers’ kitchen, where food is prepped for the animals, to remind the keepers to be vigilant and careful - the picture is of a table with a finger on top - the finger of the tiger’s owner who ultimately decided maybe keeping a tiger wasn’t such a good idea. The picture doesn’t even need a caption.

One of his co-workers took a picture of one of the big giant tortoises. I love turtles. And I liked this picture so much, for quite a while I used it as my avatar.

This tortoise is incognito, hiding behind googly-eyed glasses. When we write, our characters often hide behind facades. If the bad guy showed his true colors, he wouldn’t last long in real life nor in a book. If the two would-be lovers showed what they really felt, the book would be over within ten pages instead of hundreds. If the cop told the subject that he really had no evidence against him, but he’s hoping he’ll confess, that interrogation would go far.

You, as the writer, have to know the truth behind the googly-eyed glasses. But you have to keep the glasses on the character, revealing the truth bit by bit or perhaps in a climax unveiling, but even if you wait to whip off the mask, there have to be clues, carefully planted, so that the reader can sit back and think, yeah, I should have seen it; the clues were there, hidden.

What “googly-eyed glasses” do you use in your writing? What techniques do you use to reveal the character’s true colors or real feelings?
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  1. Ohhh....nice topic. I'm going to enjoy reading the responses here.

    My bad guys are usually long-time residents and contributors to the community. They seem just like everyone else. They ARE just like everyone else, except they've killed someone and are desperately covering up the fact. If they didn't fit in, it would be like a neon sign pointing to them as the murderer.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Since my books are 'life stories,' I often show situations and life itself slowly chipping away at a character and his resolve to hide or deny his feelings.

    L. Diane Wolfe

  3. Hm, for me, in my fiction, it's usually unexpected situations that might arise, demanding a response, that show at least hints of a character's true nature.

  4. Good topic and question today. For an antagonist I like to divulge little bits and pieces as the story unfolds of deep seated problems or issues that are motivating factors towards an upcoming major plot event. Internal dialog works well - if not overdone.

    The Old Silly

  5. We've got some pros here at handling bad guys and their "reveals."

  6. As a collaborative writer my biggest challenge is keeping my writing partners from broadcasting too many tells regarding my villainous characters. The reader might be able to guess or be privy to private intentions, but the characters need to be in the dark for suspense.

  7. Ah, muzzling your characters take some finagling, don't they?

  8. Are the eyes for real? Not photoshopped? Such a cutie.

    Bargain with the Devil

  9. The eyes are a pair of silly glasses my son and his friend put on the turtle. Like a pair you might get at a shop that sells goofy stuff for Halloween or something.

  10. i am not sure I ever let the "googlyu-eyed" glasses come completely off.. :)


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