Let’s take a character and put these items on their nightstand:
Scattered dried yellow rose petals
Whiskey filled shot glass
One dog-eared book of baby names
A bottle of Melatonin
One bottle of extra strength Tylenol
Lavender pillow spray
.38 special revolver
A brass lamp with a torn yellowed lampshade
A small silver battery operated alarm clock
After reading the list of items, did you start to picture this character? Who they might be? What may be going on in his/her life?
Some of you may fill out character profile questionnaire or form. Some of you may make collages, or use other means to create your character. Here is another idea (or layer) you can use to enrich you character. By thinking about what is on their table or nightstand (refrigerator, car trunk, purse etc.)
These oblique details ground the scene in sensory imagery making it feel real to the reader. Of course you do not (and should not) use every item that you think your character may have or it will lose its value.
But you (as a writer) should know as many intimate details about your character as you can. It is like back-story – you occasionally sprinkle out pertinent details for the reader as needed rather than doing an information dump.
You can also weave in these items in a scene. For example, maybe your heroine’s alarm rings. With her eyes half closed she fumbles to turn it off. Stretching her arm to the table- pushing aside the .38 which knocks over her bottle of melatonin sending the whisky glass crashing on the cement floor.
Just use enough detail can make the scene come alive. You can do the same for any scene- add a detail (or two) which can make the reader connect to the scene- to your character thereby enriching the story.
What Oblique Details do you use to explore characterization?
Lois Lavrisa writes Mystery with a Twist. Her first mystery, Amazon Top 100 Bestselling and Amazon Hot New Release, LIQUID LIES, is set in an affluent lake town in Wisconsin, and asks the question “Would you tell the truth, even if it meant losing everything?”