Friday, June 8, 2012

The Pocket Guide to Characters

No, this isn't a small, tidy little how-to for character development booklet. It's literally: "What's in side your character's pockets?"


My "Soul Mate Critique Partner" asked me a few weeks ago what was in David and Jillian's pockets? She wanted to get to know them more. I thought about it for a minute and things started to pop into my head. It was freakin' brilliant! What a fun way to delve deeper into your characters and come up with  more than just lint!

How can the items in your character's pockets, or let's say purse or satchel or even tactical gear, in the case of my characters, tell you about who you're character is? Well, those items give you insight in to the small details, the everyday needs to organizational skills. Are the items handy, decorative, personal tokens? Do the items serve a generic purpose, or are they there for sentimental value?

Women take a look in your purse. Guys, look in your pants pocket, or even the console of your car. How much of that stuff do you REALLY need? How much of it is stuff you keep because you think you might need it? Aside from my orange leather wallet, my Oakley X-metal Juliet glasses, a little notebook for jotting down ideas and my real glasses for driving, I have tons of receipts in my bag, some with used gum in them. Eww. And a ziplock bag of coupons. Yeah, I'm exciting, I know. I have a small bottle of antibacterial gel I never use, un-chewed gum, Chapstick and a Vera Bradley case to hold tampons and some ibuprofen for a headache.  My big secret? I have some borrowed Xanax wrapped in a reindeer Christmas napkin stashed in a small ziplock bag that I got from a friend, just in case I'm at my in-laws for a holiday and I'm about to have a meltdown because my sister-in-law's demon spawn are crawling the walls. It's a dicey prospect.

What does all of this stuff say about me? I like bold colors - the orange wallet, but never on my body. I spend good money on things that I know are going to last - the -metals. I try to be good about using coupons, but don't always get to it . The rest is all practical needs for when out of the house. There's nothing worse than needing a tampon when your out and you don't have one. The receipts, I try not to think about, but if I'm honest they're from too much fast food. I could lie and say it's just to wrap up my gum but...

So let's play the game: What's inside ex-CIA agent, Jillian Craig's purse? Well first of all, it's an expensive leather and aligator skin black hobo bag. Just like she doesn't scrimp on shoes, neither does she scrimp on bags. However, the bag will change to accent her outfit. But this is her favorite one. Inside, she has her make-up bag (hi-end cosmetics, a lot from Europe - bought when traveling), a large wallet with credit cards under an alias. Of course, tampons and condoms for that impromptu liaison because you just never know when a hot Italian man will take you to Milan. In case she needs to skip town on a second's notice, inside the lining she has an alternate id and passport under a different alias. She has a lock picking set and smaller blade stiletto knife.

What does this say about Jillian? In her personal life, or rather when she's not on the job, she's still always on the job. She needs to have items that keep her identity a secret and allow her protection and a means of escape if the situation arises. She loves the finer things in life. She will spend a lot of money for good fabrics, well made accessories and accouterments. She likes sexy men and is no stranger to the occasional fling. While she'll commit to a life of self-sacrifice for the greater good and a $1000 pair of shoes, she's less likely to commit to a man for more than a few hours and sexual romp.

How about her tactical vest when she's on a mission with the Colonel? Well, it's got lots of little pockets and a backpack for supplies. A kit will normally contain MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), a canteen, 25 grenades and frag grenades. Packs of C4 explosive, detonators, wire, wire cutters, needle nose pliers plus a variety of other tactical gear. Personal hygiene stuff: OB tampons (small and no waste), yeast infection pills and extra elastic hair ties. She carries gum and an iPod, which she'll often give away to children in foreign countries. The local kids love American gum.
Check out this extensive site for the combat load carried by soliders in Afghanistan. Jillian would be the Grenadier.

The coolest part about Jillian is that she's a glamor puss AND a warrior. I like the juxtaposition of those two personalities because they're so incongruous.

Next time we'll take a look at David's pockets and see what that says about him. In the meantime, check out your character's pockets. Or, have fun and take a guess at what your favorite character has in hers. It's work that feel like play and there isn't anything that's better than that!

Dig up some lint!
~Indigo Grace

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