Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Crazy week in an already crazy household. My two older sons are moving out, my middle sons are returning today from visiting relatives, and I'm still unpacking after attending a high school reunion. (Not telling which one!) My three-year-old is glued to me as I type this because I left him behind for five days. He's making sure I don't make the same "mistake" again.
The high school reunion was great fun. Time has been kind to some of my classmates. Others have not fared as well, every year marking its passage. I recognized the first man I saw on Friday night. Though his hair was beginning to gray and he towered over me--not hard since I'm 5'3"--I could easily see that boy I'd known in third grade. Others asked, "Remember me?" but they'd changed so much I couldn't notice a resemblance from high school days.
Some of the spouses were annoying. "Remember our English/biology/whatever class together?" they'd lie, trying to trick us. We'd scrunch our eyes and stare, trying to remember. I never said, "I remember you," though I heard others fell for their stories. Spouses should wear a warning on their name tags: "No, I didn't graduate with you."
The length and number of marriages varied from marriages lasting--oops almost told which reunion this was--let's just say, the number of years we'd been out of school to newlyweds of four months. Four was also the most number of marriages any of my classmates had contracted . . . so far. It was surprising to see who married who, who'd stayed married, and who'd divorced. Also unexpected, the beautiful homecoming queen didn't marry until many years after graduation.
The career choices were interesting. Some followed expected paths. The boy who dreamed of being a doctor is a family practice physician. The sports editor of the student newspaper writes for Fox Sports. Teacher's pets became teachers. Other classmates surprised me. The blonde cheerleader who became a bank executive, the football player who became a linguist, the rowdy teen who became a cop, the shy boy who became a P.I., and the girl voted most likely to be the first female president stayed home to raise seven children.
In real life, people make unpredictable choices. But in fiction, you're trying to make readers believe your characters are real, so your job as a writer is to provide proper motivation for the decisions your characters make. Have fun with your characters. Choose the unexpected. Just give a believable reason for your choices.
I learned about my classmates' hobbies, children, and marriages. I interviewed them about their careers. I sketched info about setting. If you have an opportunity to attend a class reunion, go for it!
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