Yesterday, I reblogged an article that suggested we get to know our characters by mentally taking them shopping with us. Last night, it occurred to me that we actually see some of my characters’ shopping decisions in the text of the book, so I thought it would be fun to examine how those shopping trips give us clues as to who they are. Up first: Amos Boudreaux, from Bayou Fire.
Here’s a quick list of things we know that Amos has bought, or buys during the course of the story:
- He buys produce for his restaurant himself, and does it at the farmer’s market. He’s supporting local farmers.
- When we first meet him, he’s wearing faded jeans and his university T-shirt. Later, for a date, he’s wearing dark jeans, a crisp white shirt, and polished boots. We also see him in bespoke suits and a tuxedo, when the occasion warrants.
- He drives an older car that he loves, despite its temperamental motor.
- When he brings lunch to Diana Corbett when shes under the weather, it isn’t take-out from a fast food joint. Instead, he gets the ingredients to make a quick chicken soup and puts it together himself.
- When he’s shopping for jewelry, it isn’t at a mall shop where everything looks the same. He’s in New Orleans antique stores looking for unique pieces.
So, what clues to his character do we glean from all of this? Well, we know that his local culture is important to him. Part of the way cultures are preserved is through food, and we see the kind of care he takes with it.
We also see that he takes care of the things (and people) he values, where other people might just give up and get something new that they don’t care about as much.
Finally, we see that he considers one-of-a-kind items superior to generic ones.
Amos is the youngest in his close-knit Cajun family; he would have learned the importance of caring for things to make them last through difficult times. He also would have learned to value family heirlooms as something to pass down for the future.
Honestly, until I read that blog article yesterday, I hadn’t thought about how my characters’ shopping/buying habits reflected their personalities … but now that I’ve considered it even a little bit, I can see how it works. I can’t wait to examine some of the others with you.
How might you use this method to figure out who your characters are?