Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Got Characters?

By Suzanne Cordatos

Need someone new to fill out your cast of characters?

Attend your Summer Reunion!

If you are a writer holding an invitation to a reunion this summer, what are you waiting for? RSVP YES!
Not only will you reconnect with old friends or family, but your attendance will be rewarded with a surprising roster of characters to add to your writing power!

Not everyone enjoys a reunion, especially if the initial experience was one that took several years to forget let alone spend money for hotel and gas in order to remember. High school reunions usually elicit a "meh" from me, but this summer an invitation came to a reunion I couldn't refuse: a once-in-a-lifetime 30 year reunion of a camp staff I had worked with as a teenager. I had spent a few nearly idyllic summers on a lake in western NY working as a cabin counselor and waterfront/boating staffer at the most wonderful camp in the world. I had to go.

The promise of being 17 Again (i.e. sans the spouse and kids for an entire weekend) was enticing…It's the title of a fun Zac Efron movie and exactly the way I felt driving from Connecticut across New York state.

"You look exactly the same!" "Really? So do you!"

Teenage years are spent running along the brink of life, deciding the biggies: what to do with our lives, where to attend college, what values to stand for and who to love. Exciting summers filled with goofy, spontaneous fun and deep conversations. Endless days of lakeside fun and evening songs around the bonfire. It was a personal thrill to see beloved faces and hear voices that remained familiar after three decades of silence. 

The writer in me found a gold mine. 
"Gotta be some golden characters in them thar hills!"

Changes are not so obvious in people you see daily or even yearly. A reunion provides an opportunity to compare how people were “back then” with a snapshot of the “now.” 

Those yearbooks proclaiming some faces as “most likely to” probably actually really didn’t; in my reunion’s example, the “class clown” turned out to be one of the most successful as marketing director of a company that is a household name around the globe.With a collision of “what was” and “what is” in front of your eyes, your writer’s mind will easily be energized, like a magician conjuring many “in between” stories.

Try it for yourself! Have you met new characters this summer?


  1. Vivian, what a read idea. The next time I have to attend a family event, I'll have to be prepared to make mental notes. I'm convinced some of my relatives would make great characters {grin}.

    1. Hi Margaret! You can always scribble notes on a napkin...if anyone notices, just give a mysterious smile and say that it's how JK Rowling got her start!

  2. Well, this is Suzanne's idea, but it's a good one.

    1. Thank you, Vivian! I'm curious -- how do you come up with your characters? Do you use family members or past students for inspiration?

  3. Good idea, Suzanne. I can just imagine. I try to stay away from those things. Ha!

    1. Thank you, Janet! I've steered clear of reunions for years, but was truly blessed with one this summer! Hope you enjoyed your summer, too!

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