character building

you can learn a lot about someone by what they say, but you can learn even more by what they don’t say or even just by the tone of their voice.

for instance:

bria: i’d love to find a good chicken salad recipe.

me: that’s so labor intensive. you have to boil the chicken, cut it into cube sizes pieces, and then make the sauce.

bria: you don’t cook much, do you?

me: *startled expression*

bria: you listed three steps. *laughs*

she’s right. i don’t cook much. i don’t particularly enjoy it plus cooking for one means i only need to cook once a week because a recipe yields plenty of leftovers, but that wasn’t the point i set out to make when i made that statement.

which got me thinking about writing. it’s the age old rule of SHOW, DON’T TELL, but to see it so clearly…

i said one thing, but the audience read (the truth) between the lines. chicken salad really isn’t that difficult to make and even with my limited culinary skills i could do so myself.

but again, not my point.

the point is that there are so many ways we get to know people – by talking, listening, watching – and it’s important to incorporate tidbits about the characters in a variety of ways because it’s not only more interesting, but it reflects reality and what’s fiction if not an exaggerated form of the truth?

what’s the sneakiest way you ever learned something about someone? (in real life OR a book.)