Timetables of History – Driven to Distraction

Today, I am planning to do some character development.

No, I am not going to put myself in a situation where I’ll be forced to sleep on a chunk of cardboard.  I am developing a character, not building mine.  Whoever made up the idea that abuse and want builds character probably had some troubles and said it was building character as a form of self-comfort.  But, I’ll leave him alone and get on with my post.

Character Development was Wednesday’s topic. 

Between Wednesday and today I have talked the good talk, opened a word processing file, brought out some blank notebooks and journals and climbed a small pile of fallen books to get to the 3 I wanted.

The Art and Craft of Novel Writing by Oakley Hall was published in 1994.  This book looks at the basics of fiction as art and as craft.  This was the smelliest book among the three I took down.

John Gardener’s The Art of Fiction came out in 1983 but my copy came out in 1991.  Gardener’s book has a bigger vocabulary than Hall’s book but covers many of the same things.

The third book I took down is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg written in 1986.  I had to laugh as I flipped through this one because when she mentioned computers it was quite obvious she was not using a word processor.  “The computer automatically returns the carriage.  The device is called “wrap-around.”  You can rap nonstop.  You don’t have to worry about the typewriter ringing a little bell at the end of a line.”  At this point, she did not have a computer but imagined using a Mac keyboard in her lap.

At the beginning of this post I said I was planning to do some character development.  To be quite honest, I was going to do some character development Wednesday and yesterday.

Instead, I opened yWriter and took a few notes about a potential character.  Then I made some character study templates to work with on my Word program.  I got out my journals.  I have as many blank books as I have ink pens.

Yesterday, I took down the books I mentioned earlier.   I got one last heavy book out of the other room.  The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun.  This is my second copy, updated from the copy that is missing a cover.  Timetables comes in two varieties, American and World History.  I chose American.  It is a Horizontal Linkage of People and Events.

This books is chock full of ideas and answers.  It is arranged by year.  Let’s say one of my characters was born in 1981, what did her parents hear on the radio as they went to the hospital to give birth to their daughter?  They might have been listening to the news that Sandra Day O’ Connor became the Supreme Court’s first female judge.  Cats was all the rage in London and the Best Picture was Ordinary People.

Today, I am going to work on character development.  I’ve created a stack of distraction.  Now, it is time to push those books aside and really get to work.  My goal is to get 3 character sketches done.

I talk a big story, let see if I can show up with the goods.

Don’t touch anything sharp…

By Sally

Sally Franklin Christie Blogger and Author of If I Should Die and Milk Carton People.