How Do You See Others?

Hello, fellow fence jumpers! It has been close to a year since I last stepped deep into the Cow Pasture. Like many of you have been caught up in the strange world of Covid-19, the quarantines, rules, regs, and controversies. It feels as if I have stepped from my world onto another planet.

Uncertainty, fear, isolation, social unrest, censorship, confusion, and even a cultural war have dominated the past year. All of which, looking through a writer’s eye, would make a great start to a sci-fi novel.

So, I sat back and thought about what was happening. The first thing I noticed was how superficial we had become.

Fear does strange things to people. It makes some of us vulnerable, some of us dig down and find our courage and push through, and others become opportunists. The vulnerable retreat to safety to wait out the worst; the courageous push forward and find ways through the challenges, and the opportunistic exploit and take advantage of the situation. It is the opportunists narrative we hear the loudest. And as a result, we stop listening, talking, or hearing each other. We hunker down in homes, groups, or “tribes,” throw ourselves into survival mode, and all the while our world vision narrows to the point we could no longer see others. Really see them.

We have become a nation of paper cut-out people, flat characters who define each other by our most basic and outward traits. Most notably, the color of our skin, political affiliation, or the values we espouse. But, as writers, we know that people are not flat. They are not just a color of skin, or a profession, or gender, or any of those outward characteristics, traits, or appearance.

When writers begin the process of character development outward, physical characteristics such as height, weight, gender, hair/eye color, dress, and so on are the things that we build upon to create living characters. But at that point, all we have is a paper cut out, a sketch. It is by no means the sum of the personality we are developing. We research, plot, plan, and delve into the revealing, intricacies, and intimate details that make our character a person. We want to know what makes them tick, why and how they make decisions, what influences them, or what makes the character act or curl up in a ball. We want to know their biases, preferences, desires, hopes, dreams, deep dark secrets, and the history of their failures. Those things make our character come to life, leap off the pages of our story, and relatable.

Not one is defined solely by how they look. As writers, we expect more from ourselves and would never settle for flat, paper cutout characters in our stories. Not if we want to call ourselves writers of worthy stories to tell.

Despite all the challenges we’ve faced in the past year, it became clear to me what we need to do. First, we should never give in to the temptation to see others through the lens of what they look like or what group they belong. Each of us is a whole, complex person, made up of our unique life experiences. You can’t tell that by looking at someone from the outside. Two, we should always refuse to accept the narrative of superficial labels. Three, make it a mission to get to know people.

We live in a beautiful free country where every individual deserves respect and to be seen as a whole person. A character of their own making and the way they look is just the beginning. They have a history, an intimate story to tell, complexities unseen by our eyes. But when we take the time to speak to each other, to talk, and to listen, to really listen, we often discover a friend.

As writers, we always strive to be better writers. As one of the millions of characters in this big beautiful world we inhabit together, we should expect nothing less of ourselves than to strive to be a better person. Look beyond watch you see. Dig deeper, reach out your hand and make a new friend. After all, we’re in this together.



I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on my Facebook Pageat SheilaMcIntyreGood,PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgoodContently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Naming Your Characters

Day 14: #atozchallenge

When William Shakespeare’s Juliet discovered Romeo bore the name of her enemy, she asked:

NameWordle“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

 I  respectfully disagree with Juliet. To me, a rose is a rose, is a rose, and I venture to say others feel the same. To call a rose by any another name would be nonsense.

We all have certain mindsets when it comes to names. For example, Billy Bob denotes an image far different than the name Randolph. Naming a child, Elizabeth Marie Kennedy Thornton (fictitious) makes us think privileged.

Names conjure memories both good and bad. Ever time I hear the name Gene I am once again in the 5th grade. Our brothers, sisters, or distance cousins all provide us a mental picture of a person. It’s from life experiences and the individuals that cross our paths in which we draw inspiration for naming the characters in our stories.

Important Points to Remember:

  • Match the name to the character’s personality. Channing is not likely to make readers think of a shy introvert.
  • Don’t get stuck on a letter. Sure it might be easier, but Carol, Cait, and Cami will make the readers head spin trying to tell the characters apart.
  • Assigning cute or unusual names is tricky. When done, the character’s personality must fit the name like a glove. The name, Apple, however, popular in Hollywood, is never going to make me think of anything other than a red delicious.
  • Tread carefully when naming a character based on someone you know. Get too close to the real thing and you might just have a family member on your back.

Helpful Resources for Naming Characters:

It isn’t always easy to come up with the right name, or one we think fits the character, but there are resources.

Naming characters can be fun or frustrating but don’t let it get in the way of telling your story. You can change names anytime, just write the story.

How do you choose the names of your characters?

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilagood, and Contently.