Obituaries are handy story-starters. Some are better than others, but the good ones give you enough clues to bare bones a character. Once you have the bones, the fleshing out is easy.
Elizabeth Taylor is no longer with us. The New York Times, 24 March ’11, awarded her a front-page “stop the press” upper left photo plus a two-page spread that included seven film “stills” and seven photos of her seven husbands. (Richard Burton was not featured twice.) And if you like to keep up with on-line supplementary material, The Times has covered her life and career, “including an interactive timeline, a slide show, clips from her films and more at http://nytimes.com/movies.”
Can we get enough? Apparently not. Our appetite for all things celebrity is insatiable.
In addition to her page and a half obituary, two writers added titillating bits and bobs. Cathy Horyn wrote: Elizabeth Taylor’s style “told that she was a woman of instincts and almost violent passions; that she wore her vices, as well as her virtues, for all to see.”
- What a fabulous quote! Remove yourself from the image of Elizabeth Taylor and use this quote to invent a new character.
- Or… think of a friend’s style. (Protect your friendship. Make that an anonymous friend.) What character traits does that person’s style reveal? Where do those clues take you in terms of character development?
I’m always amazed by man’s need to make his mark. Last week I took a Swedish friend up the hogbacks (more formally known as Skyline Drive) in Canon City. We were out and about “taking the air,” but we were not the first.
In the Late Cretaceous period, before the hogback had risen some 800 feet above the surrounding terrain during the mountain building period, dinosaurs had left their footprints as they strolled the Western Interior Seaway.
Today, standing on top of what was once a seabed, we looked for “prints.” We missed the dinosaur prints, but not the marks left by other hikers.
Not that Homer can hold his own against the footprints of the World’s largest Stegosaurus (formerly found here – now enshrined at the Natural History Museum in Washington D.C.), but a local graffiti artist was compelled to make his mark.
As were the hikers who placed their pebbles in the sandstone pockets. If there were a way to leave a mark that would endure millions of years, I am sure we would.
It’s a compulsion.