The Book: Writing Fiction Step by Step by Josip Novakovich
The exercise: Work from a snippet of a conversation you overheard—perhaps all you remember is the tone in someone’s voice, the attitude in it. Take that tone and write a dialog between your character and someone else.
My vision: The ‘anti-Erin’, her name is Jocelyn and she’s not under the delusion that she controls much of anything. This doesn’t detract from her potency but rather it empowers her.
Jocelyn (on train on cell phone loud and joyous): “Hey I’m getting close to my stop! You there?”
A pause and a baffled look. And then…
“What? With nails on? Huh? Bells? Oh! Ok well I’ll see you when I get there!”
This exchange is typical Jocelyn Sturgess. She’s intelligent but un-apologetically obtuse. It was clear to everyone on the train that her friend made a reference to “being there with bells on”. How she managed to be unfamiliar with that hackneyed phrase is intriguing and whats more, she wasn’t bashful about revealing her ignorance to her friend and an entire train full of people.
Jocelyn is a college graduate. She majored in math and is now an entry level accountant at an off brand potato chip factory in Idaho. As graduation neared her friends all applied for positions at places in the South East, not wanting to stray too far from Atlanta. Jocelyn applied at companies from coast to coast and everywhere in between; Sacramento,Texas, Wisconsin, Chicago, Boise and New York.
A friend: “Who you know in Wisconsin?!”
Jocelyn (laughing): “Nobody but God girl!”
Jocelyn’s is a wisdom that’s not overly apparent but it is evident in the pervasiveness of her personal constitution within her life—God is the best of planners, So I’m always where He wants me to be.
In sum, Jocelyn is one of those people who, quite honestly, baffles me. She is among those people donning rose colored glasses drinking the lemonade that they made out of life’s lemon’s from their half full cups. I don’t quite understand her (evidenced by this skimpy character sketch) but I greatly esteem her. Frankly she makes me a little un-easy. The message that folks like her send to folks like me is: You’re making this way too complicated. Go back to the proverbial drawing board, be still, listen—and then proceed.
Easier said than done.