Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life? ~ Stevie Nicks
Yeah, I’ll admit it. I’m an American Idol fanatic. What can I say? I love music. I love young people. I love seeing people’s dreams come true. So, yes. When Stevie Nicks appeared on the show, I was drawn to the screen like a moth to a flame.
What a voice! What an impact on American music! True, she and I may not agree on many things, but music is a common denominator. If you want to find a common ground upon which polar personalities can agree, talk music.
Since I’ve been working with Harmony House, my personal music venture with the mission to put music in the hands of anyone with a dream or a yearning, I’ve really been tuned into my own abilities. So Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Stevie Nicks, I’ve turned to you for inspiration. Especially you, Stevie Nicks. I’m an English major. Of course, I love your poetry, your lyrics. “Leather and Lace”? Great message. Marvelous symbolism. And “Landslide”? I can’t get the words out of my head, especially your lyric about “seasons of my life.”
I know all about seasons. I get it. Ironically, the seasons of my life have come full circle, and I’m ALMOST where I wanted to be when I first stepped into adulthood. Sometimes I go back and read my senior yearbook. I think about the young woman I used to be and the seasoned woman I am today.
Life hasn’t changed me that me much. But I’ve come a long way on my journey. I miss the people I grew up with. But we all change and go our separate ways.
I’m a people watcher. I’m a writer. Just about every character I’ve ever incorporated into one of my stories is an incarnation of someone I’ve met. Everyone I have ever interacted with leaves something with me. Gee, I even modeled a character after a waiter at the Red Robin restaurant in Murfreesboro after one visit.
That’s what I like about writing. Control. I can make anyone do whatever I want him or her to do.
Lately, I keep coming back to Stevie Nicks’ song “Landslide.” I think about the seasons in our life. People are like seasons too, you know. The people we meet, the characters we create, share the characteristics of the seasons. I think if we examine this analogy a bit more closely we can add depth to our character development.
Everyone has his or her own perspective about the seasons. That’s great. I think we writers should follow our own guide but stay true to the individual rules we create.
There are four seasons: summer, fall, winter, and spring.
For me, summer characters are the most difficult for to define. I see summer as static. Everything stays the same. Summer is romantic. Summer is predictable. Summer is fun. Summer is carefree. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a teacher. I can’t wait for summer. When I think of summer, I don’t think of the hot sun beating down on hayfields and children’s playgrounds. I think of summer nights.
Blame it on an experience I had in high school. I was never much into the dating scene. I had my own ideal of the perfect guy, and few measured up. But I did agree to go on a date with a very cute boy on a picnic down by the AEDC lake with a group of his friends. He was quite the gentleman, by the way
Even back then, being a writer at heart, my mind was drawn to the lights shining off the lake. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I still carry that memory. For years, I’ve tried to go back to that spot, to recapture that moment, but I’ve never been able to find the place. It’s just not the same, even though I know the exact location. It’s just not the way I remember it.
I think summer characters are romantic, but predictable. They are what they are, static yet fleeting. When I think of summer, I think of romance, romance novels to be exact. We can predict the ending, many times, but the story is so satisfying.
Summer characters remind me of comfortable journey, one that leaves us with a memory upon which we can conjure and relive whenever the need be.
I have an autumn personality. I can identify with characters who are cool on the outside, like a frosty morn, but with a core that warms up like the heat from an October midday summer sun. Autumn characters are both dark and light. They can carry the mystery of a Samhain night, or they can be the harvest moon among the darkness that shows people the light.
Autumn personalities are mysteries waiting to be solved.
Winter characters can be cold and detatched, or they can be warm and inviting–as can be the season of winter. It all depends on the personality of the beholder. Some people see winter as a time of death and decay, a frost-covered earth, icy and forlorn. Other people see winter as a time of hope, a waiting period for rebirth, a time for family gatherings around a warm fire, a warm cup of cocoa or spiced cider.
Winter characters are polarized. But what makes them that way? A turning point? Winter characters are projects waiting to be devoured, dissected, and discovered.
The most difficult characters for me are spring characters, spring personalities. One minute they’re bright sunshiney happy-go-lucky. Then the next thing you know, their personalities turn dark and moody like a stormy sky. Predicting a spring character is like predicting a spring storm. The radar gives us a warning, but spring characters move where they want, when they want, how they want. Given the right factors, a spring character can turn tornadic and rip up everything, or it can blow on by like a gentle breeze.
Spring characters run hot and cold. One minute the reader feels as though she knows the character, but like blackberry winter, the character turns cold. The reader is introduced to a stranger who keeps him or her guessing. We all know real people like that. And truth spawns works of art.
I’m no master novelist by any means, but I encourage writers of all levels to consider the analogy between their characters and the seasons. Perhaps analyzing this analogy can add a little depth to our character developement.
There’s nothing like getting to know a person intimately. And for a reader, the greatest hook is getting into a character’s head and feeling like you know him or her from the inside and out.