Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Alcohol...Good for the Writer's Soul

Alcohol, and the way we drink it, or don't drink it, or observe it, is one of the most important character traits for a writer to notice.

Is this true? For many years, as I've pushed through troubles caused by alcohol, been forced to get treatement for alcohol consumption, and am still reminded daily of what has happened to me because of it, I still believe it. Sure, there are other things to help outiline people, but certain traits, maybe because they are common, outline the most.

Eating, smoking, gambling, screwing, loving, caring, stealing, lying... everything outlines people ina story, but sit them down at a bar and put a drink or two in front of them, and you begin to get to know your character.

An idiot I use to hang out with use to quote his father, a long dead, once well-thought of person in our small town. "You just can't know anyone enough to trust until you belly up to a bar with them."

I don't completely agree with that, but in the fifties, when it was probably first forged or taken from some other source, it was an indicator.

I spend a lot of time wondering about things like that. I have been told that all my stories are about drinking, drenched in it if you would, but of course it's not that simple. I write what I see and what I know, and know that I have spent a lot of time with some people and hardly got to know them at all, but if you sit down and drink with them, you get some clue. Maybe it is not a true image of the person, but a clearer one than say, if you set next to them in an office for years. At least if they're not talkers.

There are many ways to use alcohol to outline characters, or tell about real people. Alcohol often lets the guards down. Mean drunks, sloppy drunks, smoking drunks, yacking drunks, slutty drunks, etc. Also, what they drink, how they drink it, all of these are the staples and tells that come across a bar.

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