August 23rd, 2010

Baby and me

30 days on writing: Entry #27: Failure of the (visual) imagination

"I'm so sorry, I've forgotten your name!"

The meme continues ...

27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

Floyd Laughren, a long-time family friend and a politician whom the late, much-lamented Frank Magazine called "the only straight-shooter in the Rae cabinet" once let me in a little not-quite-straight-shooting secret. We were talking about the importance of remembering people's names.

"I just say," he told me, "'I'm sorry, but I've forgotten your name,' as we're shaking hands. When they tell me, I then laugh and say, "No, no! I meant your last name!"

Despite the face that I'm not a politician, and that my brief term on the Board of the Directors of the Toronto Free-Net was probably my last association with electoral politics, it's a trick I could have used more often than I care to admit.

More than a few times in my life, I've been stopped on the street by some stranger calling out my names. (Like Charlie Brown, people who don't know me quite well tend to refer to me by both first and last names; does this happen to you folks or is it something particular to me?)

I say "stranger" for dramatic effect only, as it invariably turns out that I have in fact met — and have usually spent some time with — nearly anyone who calls out my name from across the street (the internet — hi Liz! — has changed this a little, but mostly it remains true) and, most often, a quick exchange of names, will remind me of who the person is and what kind of a relationship we share(d).

But as I thinkt that serves to illustrate that while I don't suffer from prosopagnosia, my temporal lobes have never made face recognition an area of advanced study.

In other words, "do appearances play a big role in" my stories? Not as such, no, and especially the faces of my characters.

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