Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Finding Characters in Unusual Places

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to go downtown Salt Lake City for jury duty. I've never done this before. What a great adventure! 

I was one of eighteen people summoned that day. Out of eighteen only four would serve on the jury. I had always thought twelve people were needed, but in Utah the law does not state the number of people that makes up a jury, so for this case they were using four. 

After filling out forms, watching a video about serving, and waiting for a couple of hours, we were ushered into the courtroom. We were sworn in and then the judge asked all of us a number of questions. 

I found the process very interesting and a great place to people watch for future stories. (Aren't the best characters where you least expect them?) There were wonderful personalities all around me: from the jury pool, to the judge, and even the clerk. They weren't at all the cardboard characters you see on TV courtroom dramas. Real life is much more intriguing. I found an awesome hero: tall, muscular ex-marine who was respectful of those in authority, and yet had a gentle manner. I also found a great secondary character: female student who couldn't drive a car, drank cup after cup of coffee and had the innocent face of a waif. Oh, did I mention the attorneys? and the officer testifying? and ... well you get my drift. The room was packed with wonderful traits to give characters.

After the judge finished asking us questions, the prosecutor and the defense attorney chose the four to serve. 

I was not chosen. I was glad and sad at the same time. I would have loved to have stayed and gained more insight of the court system and also discover more interesting characters for future stories.

Where have you found some of the characters that people your books? Where is your favorite place to people watch?



  1. I really like the new look of your blog, Kathy.

    I don't think I can pick a favorite place to people watch, but it's one of my favorite activities - that and eavesdropping. ;)

  2. Thanks, Michelle. I'm glad you like my new digs. I'm not happy with the size of the text in the comment area, but I'm hopeful the designer will fix it.

    Eavesdropping can be great fun as long as you're not caught. :) A great place to eavesdrop is a restaurant. I love hearing snatches of conversations and then building a story around them.

  3. What a fascinating experience, Kathi! Great material for a novel.

  4. Talli,
    I thought so too. Not only were there great characters there, but talk about conflict in the air. I would have loved to have served on the jury. Maybe next time. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Wow, that gives a great visual to return to for a future novel. I often watch tourists at the harbour and visualise them as Victorians. I can put men in top hats or cloth caps by just watching their mannerisms towards females.Ican place a woman on a street corner or being pampered by a rich male just by their actions. DH says it is not good to place folk in a certain class, but as I tell him, for me it is only research.

  6. Glynis,
    That's awesome! Tourists do make for interesting characters and I'll bet at a harbor you see all sorts of tourists/people/Victorians. :)



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