Saturday, August 11, 2018
Robert Matthew Goldstein is my “partner in crime” illustrating the #DieselPunk serial that you’ll find on my Jazz Age Wednesdays posts — “Hullaba Lulu.” Sometimes Rob also makes videos that parallel the Lulu-verse. He just did a fabulous one featuring (fictionalized) Nikola Tesla and the electric car that I wrote into the serial. That gave me the idea for today’s post.
So, I scrapped the post I was set to run… It would have gotten me into sooo much trouble anyway — but I’ll probably use it eventually. (Winks.) Instead, I’m going to talk about using cars as vehicles (sorry, you know I can’t resist a play on words) to develop characters or stories.
My Writing Process — or Baby You Can Drive My Car
They say that a person’s car reflects their personality. Maybe it’s true. Even though my imagination flies along the tracks until it goes completely off the rails, I’m generally a very practical person. I have to be. That’s probably reflected in the fact that I’ve almost always driven a Toyota Camry. When I wrote Atonement, Tennessee, I wanted the heroine to be an “every woman.” To bring out that part of her character, I gave her a Camry.
To quickly establish a very minor Atonement character (Chip the delivery boy), I decided to give him a yellow, 1971 Chevrolet Rally Nova, shown above. Do you already have an image of Chip in your mind?
Another character in that series had a status conscious husband, so she got a big fully-loaded SUV. My Bethany character is a Goth, an accountant — a bundle of contradictions. I thought it would be a nice quirk to give her a purple VW Beetle. Their vehicles helped firm-up their characters.
I guess I’m just a car girl…
I went all out with the car-thing when I wrote the still unfinished Guitar Mancer. Some of you will remember when I tried (and failed miserably) to finish that novel by serializing it. The cars were almost characters. It was set in the 1970s. An extremely tall shaman drove a customized Vista Cruiser station-wagon, and a magical character had a vintage 1950s Cadillac.
When I did my very first blog serial, I used to tell readers they were driving the story by sending “three things” and invite them to “get in the car!” That was my original Roaring Twenties stories, The Three Things Serial Story, and Murder at the Bijou (and coming later this year, A Ghost in the Kitchen). I used automobiles to help set the era in your minds.
Granny Phanny has the above cherished Model-T. Andy, Pip’s friend and would-be screenplay writer, drives a backfiring Studebaker. The copper, Dabney Daniels and G-Man, Moses Myrick both drive Fords.
Now, my question to you is — did it work? When I mentioned nothing more than the vehicle the character drives, did you have some sense of that person? Or for a little fun, is there a famous person (real life or fiction) whose car exemplifies their personality? Let me know in a comment.
I’ll close with one of my favorites — Janice Joplin’s Porsche.
Honk (or comment) if you love cars!
My apologies if this video doesn’t work… but I had to try.
Here’s my shameless self-promotion…
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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