characterizations

nanowrimo: a fine organization.  they need donations.  on october 1 they clear the site and prep for this year’s novel writing effort.  here’s my page:

http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/206868

i’ve just gone in and updated it.  i’m another year older, for one thing.  and i’m not writing chicklit this year, but mystery and suspense (which is what they’re calling crime fiction.  there’s no mystery or suspense in this story.)

i’m not afraid to say that i used a quote from the wizard of oz as part of my story excerpt, since i haven’t actually written any of the story yet.  i don’t even have the first line, which usually i have by this point.  like in Cathy Eats her Words, where the first line was ‘Eeeuw, Mom.’

i’m busy fantasizing the home lives of all the siblings.  as well as how to distinguish them from each other using words and images,  how to show the compensation instead of talking about it.   i’ve been working on names.  i’ve been thinking about what obsesses each character, how neat or messy their house is, what it smells like, what’s in the attic, how dirty laundry is dealt with.

the eldest daughter judy is a hippie, and her house is cluttered and dusty with cats and dogs underfoot, and smells like must, weed, fur, fresh bread and home cooking.  clothes are worn until they are truly disgusting, and dirty laundry piles up in the washing machine and overflows a broken wicker basket; clean laundry sits on a pile on the bed in the spare room.  for weeks sometimes.  the attic is half full of the kids’ old things, and half full of their old things, a lifetime of stuff to be sorted thru and given away.  judy’s had cancer, and her husband has begun to have strange fainting spells and experiencing rapid weight loss, and they’re trying to write their wills but not seeing much progress.  she is obsessed with their continuing health or lack of health, and he’s concentrating on finishing his life’s work.

second daughter cindy and her husband live in a mcmansion filled with antiques, and there’s hell to pay if you put a drink down without a coaster.  things are worn once and tossed into the laundry; their dry cleaning bills are astronomical.  there are no animals in their house, but plenty of pesticides and air fresheners.  there are only empty packing boxes in the attic, as well as any gifts tsindy hates but can’t toss because it would offend someone important.  sindee is obsessed with appearances, convinced that thru force of will she can appear rich and successful even tho inside she still feels like a mistreated teenager, sulky and put-upon.  her husband is devoted to his business, which he started with the sweat of his own brow and is beginning to see the fruits of his labor, not sure how he’ll ever manage to retire.

third son name and his wife are obsessed with money and being right.  he runs the household with an iron fist, and everybody works together like an army unit.  there’s a schedule, and they keep to it.  the kids don’t like it, and the wife tires of so much control, but he gets angry if everything isn’t perfect.  the kids keep their rooms neat, dirty laundry never touches the floor.  they would get a maid but it costs too much, and anyway that’s what kids are for, the chores.  there is no smell in the house except for a whiff of bleach.  the house is almost empty of furniture, especially with kids around, there’s not a glass in the sink or a crumb on the floor and nobody ever eats in the living room.  the attic has a few boxes with heavy duty locks, and it looks like someone has been sleeping in a corner for awhile.

the youngest brother name and his wife, or rather his live-in girlfriend, live in a rented apartment and move every six or eight months.  they’ve got a mangy old cat that sleeps next to their heads.  the furnishings are rescued from dumpsters, the clothes pile up in the corners, the dishes pile up in the sink, the food containers pile up on the table, the toilet has a black ring and the bathroom reeks of stale pee and brut.  they really only eat and sleep there, because what motivates them is getting high and staying fucked up.  there’s a subtle chemical smell about the house, unidentifiable under the sweat, cigarette smoke, and beer pong.  there is no attic.  their possessions fit into the truck in three loads.

mom’s house is a total wreck, making her kids’ messes look quaint.  a hoarder, there is trash everywhere that she can’t bring herself to throw out.  there is rotting food on the kitchen table and on the counters and in the sink and in the fridge and in the oven and in pots on the stove and fallen down behind things onto the floor.  there are critters in the house, some quite large, judging by the holes in the eaves and the droppings along the baseboards and in cabinets.  unworn clothes are piled high on the beds upstairs, many with price tags still on them.  papers spill over onto the floor in the living room, many of them tiny scraps with handwritten notes and phone numbers.  there is dirty laundry in the basement that is 25 years old, and the dryer doesn’t work, so mom basically wears something once and then puts on something else next time.  mold creeps up the walls in the basement, the house smells of critter shit, rotting food, and mold.  she is obsessed with saving things just in case, and can’t bring herself to throw out anything or to give it away in case someone’s trying to take advantage of her.   she suspects her children, who don’t give her the respect she deserves after all she did for them.  the  presence of a fiance in her life does nothing to change her habits; she assumes he’ll fit in to her lifestyle, and hasn’t invited him over to the house yet, and he’s putting up with her eccentricities for his own reasons that she’s too blind to see.

so far pretty nasty.

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