Why It Is Important to KNOW Your Character BEFORE Writing A Scene

Good evening! I would like to share snippets from a conversation, as well as a fictional embellishment — to add drama — that I overheard today, while sitting in a public space, sipping away on yet another Latte’. (Delicious) Here’s the dialogue:

Sender: “You have not mentioned the gift that I sent you last week, did you get it? Did you like it?”

Receiver: “I’m sorry, I was actually hoping you did not ask me that question.”

Sender: “Why? Did you receive it? Did you NOT like it? They are very popular…and expensive…I get them all the time…I just knew that you would love them too. C’mon, tell me, so what did you think, did you eat them all already?”

Receiver: “Well, actually, I had to trash the gift!”

Sender: “You did w-h-a-t?”…lowering her voice…”Why did you throw the gift away that I sent you?”

Receiver: “Well, you see, I am a diabetic, I have taught myself to stay away from sweets. You never asked — or noticed — that I never eat sweets —  in all the years that you’ve known me!”

Sender: “I am so sorry! You are right, as long as we have been friends—and as often as we eat out together, I should have known this! I feel like such a horrible friend that I did not notice something so important about you. Please forgive me? Let me make it up to by sending you another gift?”

Receiver: “You don’t have to send another gift; it was the thought that I appreciate, thank you! Yes, I do forgive you for not noticing. Let’s just make a rule to stay clear of edible gifts!”

Sender: “Got it! No more edibles! I promise that I will pay more attention to you, my dear friend.”

I share this observation to support my question today — how well do you know your character? Have you ever written a character into a role in a scene that is very unfitting for that character? After reading the above dialogue, does it not sound like a portion of an old cliché  — the one about how “we never notice what is right in front of our face” — sounds fitting for this dialogue, huh? However, If we (writers), in our daily writing, invest the time to learn every intricate detail about our character, we will never preview them in such a scene that unfolded above. Has this ever, accidentally, happened to one of your characters while you were writing your novel?

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