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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: The Birth of a Character
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


Usually when an author gets interviewed, the question, “Where do you get your ideas from?” is asked. Well, I’ve never been asked that, but I can pretend with the best of them. So in my fantasy, I’m on Oprah, and have just been asked that infamous question.

Well, Oprah, I’m glad you asked. My ideas mainly come from my life. Now some of you who have read my books are likely saying, “I always knew she was a little wacky, now we have proof.“

My favorite character comes from a compilation of my children. At the end of my three-year-old daughter’s first Sunday School class, I was met by the teacher with a big smile on her face, “You’re not going to believe what your daughter said today.”

I knew my daughter quite well, so nothing would have surprised me, but I looked at the teacher’s smile and I figured it couldn’t be too awful. “Well I was telling the class how God made everything. God made the earth, the animals, and God even made you Emily.”

At this point, my little Emily felt that the teacher did not quite know her facts. She put her hands on her hips and replied, “God didn’t make me; my mommy did.” After some discussion with the teacher, Emily finally conceded, “Well, maybe God helped, but Mommy did all of the hard work.”

When I received my nursing degree, I quit making pizzas at the local pizza place and started to work in the maternity unit. When I worked with pizza, Emily would tell everyone, “Mommy makes pizzas.” When I started at the hospital, I heard Emily announce to a large group of people, “Mommy works at the hospital. She makes babies.” There were several laughs and I turned red when someone commented, “What a great job and you get paid for it, too?”

While driving to my parents’ lake cottage, we played a game where we each tried to see the lake first. One day we were driving along and I could see her little head poking up over the dashboard. With perfect timing, I pointed in the opposite direction and said, “Look at the deer.” As soon as she turned her head to see the nonexistent deer, the lake came into view and I yelled, “I see the lake. I’m the winner!”

Boy was she mad at me that day. After stomping down the steps and telling the story to Grandma; everyone decided I’d cheated and she was declared the official winner. Now 20 years later, she still gets upset about it and I still laugh and marvel at my perfect timing.

When my son Quinten came along, I knew he was going to be a stubborn little guy. We were visiting Grandma and her cat. My son kept saying “Doggie.” I would patiently explain that it was not a dog, but a kitty. We argued about it for a good 10 minutes. I guess that just shows he comes by his stubbornness honestly.

He was a mischievous little guy. One day I was working in the back room; I heard my 18 month-old baby say, ”Bye-bye,” when I turned and looked at him he was in the process of crawling through the stairs’ guardrail. He then jumped 8 feet to the bottom. There was blood everywhere. This was the first of his many concussions; I knew I was in for a rough ride.

The baby of the family, Lydia, is a chatterbox. One day, on the way to preschool, I spent the entire trip trying to convince her that she did not have a shy bone in her body; she would go up to any stranger and start a conversation. Her love of words motivated her to learn how to read before she even started school.

On a preschool field trip, we went to a local grocery store. All of the other kids saw the candy and went running over to it. Not Lydia, she saw the produce aisle and screamed, “Look Mommy broccoli!” I turned to the adults staring at me and reassured them that I did feed my child vegetables. I’m not sure many believed me.

All of these stories and personalities gave birth to my character, Wrigley. I have enjoyed watching her grow and change over the years. One of the greatest parts of being a writer is I’m never alone, my characters are always alive in my heart.

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This article has been read 734 times
Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp04/29/10
I am still smiling as I write this! This made me laugh all the way through!

Very well told and you evoked all kinds of personal experiences related to yours. I'd say you did a great job touching "this" reader.
Joan Campbell04/30/10
Thoroughly enjoyed this. Loved reading all the delightful things your kids said! And your wry insights as a mother were just as funny.
The beginning could have been a bit stronger, but the last paragraph was great in tying it all together.
Lovely job!
Marilyn Schnepp 04/30/10
Same question, same answer. I too write from personal experience and what I've learned from life. Although fiction seems to sell well, I still say truth is stranger than fiction. Nice way of explaining your writings in this entry, and an enjoyable read to boot - Good job!
Genia Gilbert05/03/10
I like this very much. It is drawing on the real "characters" of life that I feel are always most interesting. You do a good job of storing the memories that count.
Carol Penhorwood 05/03/10
Out of the mouth of babes, right? Don't you just love it? And they don't even come with "indructions" (that's the way my grandson says it.) I know he's going to be a writer some day...making up his own words.
Beth LaBuff 05/03/10
Moms never run out of writing material. I enjoyed your humor here (and I'm sure it's all true!) This was a creative entry for the topic!
Virgil Youngblood 05/03/10
Love those kids. And if you work in your church's nursery or young age areas, you have a writer's treasure chest to select from.
Jackie Wilson05/04/10
This was a delight to read. I enjoyed your interview format, too. And so neat that you "compiled" your three into one "Wrigley"!
Sarah Elisabeth 05/05/10
A delightful read!

“I always knew she was a little wacky, now we have proof.“ Uh-oh, I'm in trouble!
Edmond Ng 05/06/10
Sharing life experiences and writing it down into a story is a biblical principle well followed (1 John 1:3-4). Even if we are writing Christian fiction, we certainly can write a plot that includes true to life examples, like our own experiences or those of other people we know. You’ve conveyed this message in your story very well.
Benjamin Graber05/06/10
This is hilarious! With all the rambunctious siblings I have, I can relate in part to your adventures - though the concussion your son had sounds nastier than most!
Joshua Janoski05/06/10
I think it's great how you have taken all of these life experiences and used them to create your characters.

I wish I could say that my characters are derived from my life experiences, but they are way too wacky to have come from my simple life. However, I can say that my goofy personality is a part of each one.

This story fit the topic very well. Thanks for sharing, Shann. :)
Ruth Stromquist05/06/10
A series of really fun anecdotes. I too felt the beginning was awkward, but the rest worked great and was a fun read!
harvestgal Ndaguba05/06/10
As usual,I loved it. I always love your writings. Was a little thrown off by first paragragh but definitely enjoyed the rest. Oh it brought such a smile to my face. Thanks for sharing.