“I can’t make this shit up!” Is what my stepmother shouts when she’s relating a ridiculously funny incident that happened during her day, usually involving her mother or dumb people at her work.
The best way to create believable characters is to not make them up. Because some stuff is just too awesome to be made up. Honestly, who even needs imagination with the people we have to live with day after day? It’s pure writing gold!
For example, say your main character is a brand-new teacher (let’s call him Joe) who isn’t sure what to expect when he walks into class on Day One, especially since he was home-schooled all his life. How do teenagers act on the first day of school when they’re excited about seeing their friends for the first time in months, are jacked up on seven cups of coffee and are, well, weird?
How about this: On a small couch there were eight sophomore boys piled on top of each other, laughing, and crushing the boy with glasses who was under them. “Where are my elf bouncers to remove these children from my lap?” The boy with glasses shouted.
“What?” Another boy burst out laughing.
A third wiggled around and jumped on the boy with glasses, getting into the game. “Santa! For Christmas, I’d like to be a Jew!”
Like I said: I can’t make this shit up. I witnessed this last week, not in a classroom, but at a summer music camp. And I think this is pretty good proof that real life can be better than imagination sometimes and making believable characters and coming up with accurate dialogue is hard. So why make it up?
Still not convinced? These are also quotes I’ve heard in the past year that are better than what I can make up:
“You never know who you marry until after you’re married. That’s why the man and the woman should live in two separate houses. And then, when one of them wants a piece of *ss…” (From a 93-year old woman)
“Dandelions are sadistic motherf*ckers who strive for immortality!” (From my mom, after a particularly bad day of landscaping. )
“I attack my rainbow!” (From a very gifted chorus director. There is a rational story behind this)
“Damn, if he could just take off his shirt and then run a mile, life would be perfect!” (a friend)
“Oh my god! The apocalypse is here! The plagues are spreading in from the left, the hurricanes are racing from the right and coming right down the center is Lucifer in a black chariot with ten black horses breathing fire, and above everything is the great spirit Sanitarius, who’s laughing in triumph and coming down on us all, raising zombies and killing babies! Oh my god! Hell just froze over!” (my dad, after I told him I did laundry.)
I can’t make this shit up!