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Exercise Wednesday: Rude

November 14, 2012

I hate people when they’re not polite. — The Talking Heads, Psycho Killer

Yesterday, as I flew home from a business trip, my flight was overbooked. It was a Friday and everyone wanted to get home. And the flight attendant in charge was visibly distracted. As I waited for a seat assignment, doing my best to mask my impatience, I heard her say she didn’t feel well. But there were people practically surrounding the gate kiosk, looking for seats, trying to get on a flight–basically trying to get home.

And not all of them were pleasant about it.

When people are tired and frustrated, like the soldier trying to get home for a wedding that night, or the young mother who just found out her family’s seats weren’t together, they’re going to be rude. But not everyone needs those extremes. Some people are rude because they sense an imbalance of power in a relationship and want their way. Some don’t relate well with other people. And some are just selfish or mean.

My characters then to have superior manners. They’ll wise-crack. They’ll mutter on their breath. But they typically display acceptable or better manners in dealing with others. And that’s not always a good thing.

Sometimes a character has to be rude because of the nature of the character and the circumstance. And sometimes a character is just a jerk from time to time.

Today’s exercise is for you to take a character that’s normally a reasonable person, and make them rude. Of course, everything your character does has to have a reason, so while you’re writing the scene, you should also understand why your character is being rude.

Time limit: 20 minutes

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