Tips for Tuesday: So What’s That Got to Do with Writing?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

My husband claims, erroneously, that he can’t take me anywhere without running into somebody I know. Usually someone I’ve taught. As I’ve taught in Utah’s high schools, colleges and universities for over 50 years, I can understand where he might get that idea.

I love making connections — with people, between people, among people. They are often my students or former students. I sometimes claim they’re the only people I know.

Today, I ran across an eight-year-old funeral notice — the mother of one of my former students — and I had gone to the funeral. She’d written her address, in Washington state, on the back of the notice. My husband had known her back then as well, and found her on Facebook. I’ve had a lovely “reunion” with her online today. She and her husband (whom we also knew) are now serving an LDS mission in Chicago, but will relocate to American Fork when they are released. I let her know that the girl who played Annie Sullivan to her Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker at Granger H.S. has moved back to Utah and my student director from that show lives near-by me in West Valley City. We’re planning a Miracle reunion.

When I was a debate coach, at Park City HS, one of my former debaters from Granger HS came to act as a judge many times. Often enough that many of my debaters got to know and enjoy him. I’d “found” him again when he showed up at a meet to judge for another coach—a student he’d had classes with at the U of U. Well, he didn’t judge for her any more after that—but did a lot for us at Park City! (Maybe that had been one connection too many for me—I always needed judges, so I stole him!)

When I was the drama director at Park City HS, one of my American Fork HS students did the choreography for my musical and got to know those kids. Then she ended up judging debate with that former student/judge from Granger.

And why is this a Tip about writing???

Do your characters ever run into old friends in different places? Or meet someone new with whom they have a surprising, mutual friend? Could that meeting rescue you from an ordinary scene into something of more value? How do their connections with each other affect your story?

If you haven’t thought about good ways to use perhaps minor characters, try this/ None of us lives in a vacuum. We all know people from different0 schools, neighborhoods, walks of life. Let your characters bump into old friends (or enemies), discover mutual acquaintances at odd moments or in different places. Put your characters to work—even the “minor” ones!

See you next on Thinkin’ on Thursday!

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