I’m one of those people that wants to know the useless information of the world. I may not have a clue as to why I’m voting come election time, yet I enjoy knowing that the inside of a banana peel can be used as shoe polish. I’m particularly good at movie trivia; when I hear a familiar voice in a cartoon, see an actor on the television I can’t quite pin or don’t understand a satirical joke – I need to look it up right then and there to understand and link to any prior knowledge I’ve had.
I similarly don’t feel comfortable with writing a scene where I haven’t truly experienced something that is happening to the character. I like to write a lot of fantasy and some of my current characters have wings, so it’s not easily relatable – that’s why I jumped off a cliff three years ago to gain the feeling of free falling and then soaring outwards at 150kms an hour.
So in the spirit of hands-on research, I decided to take on another pursuit. My main character, whom spends a lot of time on the run and avoiding human-like relationships, will enter an environment where she is welcomed into a share-home and due to another character’s passion for normality, encourages the home’s occupants to sit down and have dinner together every night. Now we’ve all been in situations where we have to meet people; new jobs, meeting the in-laws, university or school classes and functions, yet actually sitting down to dinner purely in the spirit of bonding – with complete strangers – is something that isn’t heard of often. This is my character’s experience and I wanted to know what it felt like. I’m not a shy person so when I first heard of Stranger Danger Dinners, I thought it was something right up my alley, however I still couldn’t shake the creeping curiosity of the unknown that contrasted wider to nerves when meeting someone for a date or going to a party where you only know one person. Sitting down to a dinner full of unknowns where all we do is talk, is rather personal and enchanting. I feel as though some people revealed things they were originally not planning to say, as one’s personal filter does when you’re meeting people for the first time. Yet the act of sharing a meal and a drink with no agenda made it safe.
It gave me hope for my character and I had a great time too. Stranger Danger Dinners are currently active in the city of Perth, Australia, however their mysterious host tells me of hopes to expand in other cities, so I encourage you to give it a go.
In general I encourage you to take on experiences that will benefit your characters; travel, sports, food, languages – anything that enriches the senses of your characters and scenes. Make your life as rich as possible…and claim it on tax once you can call yourself an author 😜