Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Anita Preston Grunt Garza

Today's TeachersWrite Quickwrite challenge is from Julie True Kingsley.  She asks us to generate a character's story by starting with a physical picture of the person you have in mind, then choosing a song that defines the internal character and one that defines the external character.  Then, generate some backstory for the person based on what you've learned from the picture and music.

I chose to use my main character, Marlon Grunt's mom, Anita.  I already know some things about her, but I haven't got a clear picture of her in my head, and for all the trouble she causes Marlon in my story, she's doesn't have the depth and complexity of character that she should have yet.  So, this exercise is timely.

Name:  Anita Preston (Grunt) (Garza)

By Sir Mildred Pierce (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Age: 40

Favorite Song:  Chantilly Lace by The Big Bopper.  Her daddy, a big, booming man with a ready laugh used to sing this song to her when they were in the car.  She remembers sitting next to him in their Ford Pinto Station wagon, his hand hanging out the window with a lit cigarette, and his sunglasses hiding his eyes, and she'd feel safe and cherished.  He'd sing the whole song, word-for-word, and when he'd sing "and a ponyTAIL hangin' down", he'd tweak her pony tail to make her giggle.

Internal Song: Long, Cool Woman in A Black Dress by The Hollies.  This is how she sees herself.  Anita has lived most her life believing that her most valuable assets are her feminine wiles and physical appearance.  It's a song she associates with feeling her most powerful, putting on her make-up, slipping into her high heels, sitting at the bar, flirting with a man, lighting a cigarette.  She knows she looks good to the truckers and punters she finds at the bar, and after a few drinks, she feels like the woman in the song and the men will all fall at her feet if she commands it.  When she's nervous or anxious, this is the song that helps her regain control

External Song:  She's Not There by The Zombies. The world sees Anita for who she is, not who she wants them to see (much like all of us), but only after she snows them for a while.  Well no one told me about her - the way she lies.  She's fairly good looking, damaged more by the smoking and the drinking and the late nights than anything else.  The middle class community that sees her mostly in relation to Marlon (Charlie's parents, Marlon's teachers, etc.) consider her a white trash dilettante.  She can't hold down a job for more than a few months at a time.  She's been married twice - widowed once, divorced once, but has stopped short of having live-in boyfriends because she worries about Marlon and Phoebe getting along with these men from her other life.  She is constantly going out to seek the attention of drinking buddies and beaus alike.  She loves Marlon, but he stopped treating her like a princess many years ago, so she doesn't know how to talk to him.  She doesn't feel a connection with him, and whenever he's around she feels small, stupid, and like she never lived up to her potential in his eyes.  So, she avoids him.  Well, it's too late to say I'm sorry.  How would I know? Why should I care? Please don't bother trying to find her. She's not there.

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