Monday, October 13, 2008

When the fog lifts at sunset: Contrasting Characters

The fog ran away!

Two years ago my husband and I were in Arizona for a business trip. We had a couple extra days and decided to see the Grand Canyon. Neither of us had seen it before. We drove and drove and drove, and when we got to the canyon we couldn't see a friggin' thing. It was too foggy. My husband had always wanted to see a sunset at the Canyon. It was near sundown, and we were freezing. Who knew Arizona could be cold?! Certainly not this Carolina girl!

Anyway, I wanted to go back to the car. But my husband wanted to stay for the sunset. CrAzY man! We couldn't see the sky for the fog.

But wouldn't you know, as if on cue in a movie, with only a few minutes until sundown, the fog rolled away and cleared the canyon. "Rolled away" isn't the best way to describe it. If clouds had feet, it would have been more like running!! Or as if God himself were pulling back the curtains for an unveiling. We got to see the sunset. The picture above is the contrast of the fog clearing. I had hoped to get more of the fog in the picture, but that's how fast it was moving! You can see in the left corner how little could be seen.

This is part of the sunset we saw. Pictures don't do it justice.

Contrast is striking. A fog clearing at sunset made this moment memorable.

Contrasting characters do the same thing. They accentuate your protagonists personality and make them memorable.

One thing I've noticed while reading THE HUNGER GAMES is that Suzanne Collins uses a lot of contrasts in characterization. Right away the story starts with two people who are driving forces behind Katniss (the protagonist) Both forces bring out dual sides of her personality

THE MOTHER: a source of bitterness and hardship for Katniss
HER SISTER: brings out her softer side.

Then later we meet PEETA: The boy who saved her life years ago becomes someone who is plotting to kill her.

These contrast bring out the best and worst of Katniss and heighten the tension in the story.
So, the lesson I learned from THE HUNGER GAMES is to deliberately use characters as a painter uses colors or as God used a fog at sunset.

The results can be breathtaking!


Carrie Harris said...

Wow! Those are some amazing pictures!

Jacqui said...

Mmm. Interesting. I'm feeling like there's another writing lesson too in the fact that you might not have appreciated the view if it had been there all along, in terms of when we as writers choose to give readers information.

Must ponder...

Rena said...

Oh wow, great pictures! I've seen the Canyon all sorts of different ways and each is unique in its own. The foggy picture is amazing. that's a great way of thinking about characters too. What one person sees might be totally different for the next to come along, given what's going on at the time.

No matter how many times I see the Grand Canyon, that first walk up to the rim takes my breath away ...

C.R. Evers said...

Thanks Carrie! I took oodles of pictues, those are a couple of my most memorable.

Hey Jacqui! I think you're right. I've seen lots of sunsets, but that one is the most memorable one yet. I don't even remember if we saw the sunset the next night or not. Definately something to think about in writing technique

Rena, I bet you've seen all kids of beautiful scenery between living in So. Cal and Montana. I'd love to do one of those hiking trips into the canyon sometime! I bet that would be amazing!


Kelly said...

The Grand Canyon is indeed amazing. Beautiful pictures!!

adrienne said...

Great story and analogy. I'm sure you appreciated the view that much more because of the dramatic changes. Beautiful pictures, too!

sruble said...

Great pictures and story too! If I ever get a chance to go to the Grand Canyon, and it's foggy, I'll know to wait for sunset :0)

Good tie-in to characters too.

Kim Kasch said...

We, my husband, kids and I, rode the mules down the North side of the Grand Canyon - only half way. They have to all be 12 to go to the bottom and Kara wasn't 12 then.

Breathtaking doesn't even begin to explain. It was OMG scary and exciting at the same time. One day I'd love to go back and ride all the way down - it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen.

Thanks for sharing your story.

beth said...

Interesting...I'll have to take a closer look at my characters.

Brenda said...

Wonderful pics...I love sunsets...