The Character Closet

Most people have a right brain and a left brain. Storytellers also have a closet between the two. Well, it’s more like a bus-depot/library staging area where incomplete characters pass the time, tickets in hand, by searching through towering reference stacks for tidbits of their identity, hoping to find enough pieces to present a picture that catches the writer’s attention. Some of these characters are even real people we’ve met, but their stories are incomplete, so they also must wait.

In my character closet, the senior resident is Tilly, a rather meek-looking, 80-year-old grandmother who has been clutching an Igloo six-pack cooler for nearly 20 years and still isn’t ready to tell me what’s in that thing.  I can wait, primarily because I couldn’t force her to talk if I wanted to, but also because she runs a tight ship.

Tilly helps the other characters with their research, and listens to God’s promptings better than I do. So when I get to wondering about something and ideas begin to form, she calls for a bus and starts prepping characters for launch. She steps over to the speaker box that connects to my awareness and makes an announcement something like this:

“Hi Rose, Tilly here. Just want to let you know I’m still thinking about telling you…but in the meantime, we just found out that Peter’s son will be called Michael and that the orphanage has agreed to let him visit before the paperwork is final. Also, you’ve really got to give the Twins some attention. They’re kicking down a rotting fence without the least bit of concern about that St. Bernard on the other side! What do you suppose is going to happen here?”

I’ve learned to rely on Tilly. In the recesses of my closet, which is buzzing with activity, she’s got a Marine Corps Reconnaissance gunnery sergeant standing in the corner, tending to a whimpering child; she has partitioned off a room for mothers pleading with their wayward children (she’s sensitive to moms and goes out of her way to make room for their struggles because she knows that’s where my heart is); and she’s sneaking food to a teen-aged runaway who’s trying to figure out how she ended up living in a cold, boarded up basement and wondering what’s keeping her from going home where the love is. If I had to guess, I’d say there are about 40 or 50 others in there—all just waiting.

Tilly also insists on continuous closet expansion, and has encroached far into Left-Brain territory (which is why I can’t remember how to operate the DVD player, or that today is my best friend’s birthday, or type in a code when the number plate has the 7 in the top left corner instead of the 1 (quick, check the number block on your computer keyboard and then the phone ―what’s WITH that, anyway?)  So, because of Tilly’s foresight, there are many empty chairs for inbound characters, and there are seats for Other People’s stories. Until starting this blog I never understood those OP seats, but guess what? They’re yours! …

I Paint Word Portraits

6 Responses to “The Character Closet”

  1. dewybrook May 8, 2013 at 3:24 am #

    I am intrigued. I love the character and concept. All I can say is that I am very glad this is not a complete book yet because I would have been up all night reading.

  2. Samuel May 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    It says a great deal when a glimpse such as this can lean me forward in my seat. I’m eager to read the next paragraph, and I’m dying to know more about Tilly. Thank you for the introduction, Rose. Something tells me The Character Closet holds many exciting, detailed, and layered people that I’m just longing to meet. Even if I never knew they existed. Nice!

    • pjoy93 May 19, 2013 at 1:34 am #

      Ah Sam, don’t you know, you are MY inspiration. I have never seen anyone so passionate about following his passion. Thanks for leading the way.

  3. Cheryl January 19, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

    Rose, Your sense of humor is in perfect timing with your insight and sharp wit. I am looking forward to hearing more from your closet, I am wondering about that truck driver. What’s his name, Angus?

    • Portrait Writer January 19, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

      Yep. Scottish semi driver with a border collie named Shotgun. 🙂 He’s driving slowly toward the front of the line…


  1. A Bookman Old Style Girl in an Arial World… | Rose's word portraits - April 23, 2013

    […] The Character Closet […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: