Monday, August 21, 2006

Turn Signals

You know, these days it seems like almost everyone I get stuck driving behind doesn't know how to use turn signals. Or doesn't want to. Or doesn't know where they're going. I mean, how hard is it to flip that little lever and blink left or right? Just let me know where you're going, so I can make a plan to navigate around you, or follow, or avoid, if I have to. But these drivers with no directionals make me wonder if maybe they don't know exactly where they're headed. Maybe they're making decisions at every intersection. Or maybe they just want to keep everyone guessing.


This is beginning to sound a lot like the characters in most of my stories. I have plans for them, naturally. At the start of the story, I know where they're headed. I know what turns they'll make at what critical junctions, and I make sure I give them turn signals ahead of time, so no one's surprised when they act the way they do.

Then they take matters into their own hands. They turn off their directionals and start taking turns, making choices, that I didn't plan out for them. How dare they? How dare they develop personality traits, decisions, quirks, that I didn't carefully arrange for them?

How wonderful that they do.

Maybe turn signals aren't a necessary thing in every facet of life, after all. It's kind of neat when you reach the end of a writing journey, whether a paragraph, chapter, or complete novel, and realize you've ended up somewhere you didn't plan to. Somewhere richer, more captivating, more interesting, less planned.

If only the drivers in my life could use their turn signals. I don't really mind if my characters turn theirs off once in a while.


Marianne Arkins said...

Yes... to both!

Honestly, one of my favorite bumper stickers has to be:

Forget world peace, envision using your turn signal

It's especially prevalent in the east, IMHO. And, no, I won't get into Massachusetts drivers. Yet.

Judy said...

Good morning, Alison. I have the same problem with my characters. And, sometimes it IS a problem. Especially when I have characters showing up that were never intended to be in the story at all. Jeesh... how dare they!

RE: turn signals. I actually saw a man using hand signals the other day. I hadn't seen that in YEARS... and, yes, I even knew what they meant. That tells you how old I am!!!