In My Characters’ Shoes: Leaving Home

I’ve heard people say to “write what you know”, and I’m sure you have too. Of course, it never seems to really make sense–unless, of course, you’re writing an autobiography. But today I had quite the adventure, and I learned more about what “writing what you know” means.

The idea came into my head like, well, a light bulb flashing on. I could be like my characters. I could be called to action. I could be called to adventure and have to leave home.

Characters usually have to leave their homes–it’s an integral section of the Hero’s Journey–and my personal characters have had that experience too. Usually, they have to do it quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes.

So I decided that I would try the same thing. I would give myself ten minutes to gather whatever I would need to survive while journeying for three days, and then get out of my house before the time ran out, without anyone noticing. I gave myself a tiny bit to think of what I might bring with me, and then I began.

Those ten minutes gave me an adrenaline rush, though there wasn’t any real threat. I started by grabbing my backpack and going downstairs to my room, then emptying out my school stuff and putting stuff in it. Running up and down the stairs and collecting items in the ten minutes would’ve been hard enough.

What made it harder was that my siblings were watching.

They were milling around the kitchen and other important areas upstairs, doing their thing, and I had to collect stuff and bring it downstairs without them noticing. I’m honestly amazed that they didn’t see me carrying the food down, because I felt like it was totally obvious.

At the very last second, I yanked open my bedroom window, pulled out the screen, and exited from my window well, so my family wouldn’t see what I was doing, and emerged outside with my backpack on my back and ready for adventure.

The first thing that I found really interesting about this experience was how easy it was. I got this weird thrill when I looked down at the stuff I was packing in the backpack and realized, I could be running away right now. This is how easy it would be. Ten minutes, and I could be gone.

Not that I’d ever want to run away from my home, of course, but I’d never really thought it would be that easy to do so. No one really paid attention as I carted stuff downstairs; no one seemed to care what I was doing. It would have been so easy to just disappear.

The second thing I found really interesting was some of the specific things I bought with me.

107_0002 cropped.png
A picture of all the stuff I managed to fit in my backpack.

Of course some of this things are practical and expected: some food, money, a coat, clothes, shoes. But some of it surprised me after the ten minutes were up and I was reflecting on what had happened.

I’d brought my scriptures, the USB with all my novels saved on it, and a blank notebook and a pencil, without even really thinking about it. They just seemed like things I might need.

And after I’d calmed down, I was kind of amused by those choices. Who knew if I’d ever find a computer where I could upload my novels? If I was running away, would I really have time to write stories in my notebook?

But it makes sense, too. Those are the things that are the most integral parts of my life, and so I put them in there. I read my scriptures every day, and I want to keep reading them, so I put them in. I love to write, so I put in the USB and the notebook so I can keep doing it.

I’d always thought that someone leaving home would take the most practical and the most memorable with them, but it turned out that I hardly took anything that had memories for me. No stuffed animals, no mementos to remind myself of my family. Instead, I took unmarked scriptures and a blank notebook.

Both of these insights helped take me into my character’s shoes, and now, I can write about it properly, because I’m writing what I know. Obviously, my characters wouldn’t go through the same process as I did–most of them don’t even live in the same world!–but from my discoveries, I can, in a sense, know what my characters would do.

I can now write a running away scene where no one seems to notice, or make it so they have to avoid people who are around while they collect the items needed for their journey. I’d never thought about how people might be around, and now I can write it properly.

And if I know what’s most important to my characters and what they do every day, what their habits are, then what they put in the bag would reflect that, instead of small mementos that hold memories but are only occasionally used or glanced at.

This was such an interesting experience, and I want to experience more of these moments where I get into my characters’ shoes, and then share my insights with you. Any suggestions on what scenario I should try out next?

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18 thoughts on “In My Characters’ Shoes: Leaving Home

  1. Rose Lawson February 6, 2016 / 5:59 PM

    Omigosh I. Have. To. Try. This.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lana February 6, 2016 / 6:41 PM

      You totally should. It was crazy and fun and it helped me learn a lot. 😀

      If you do, tell me how it goes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rose Lawson February 6, 2016 / 7:14 PM

        Well, I know I can use the backdoor that no one uses! That’s a start!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lana February 8, 2016 / 5:43 PM

        Ooh, that’d work. There’s a door that no one uses in my garage, but I’d have to walk through the house to get to the garage first, so I can’t say that would work too well, hehe. Besides, it’s fun to climb out of my window…

        Like

      • Rose Lawson February 8, 2016 / 6:13 PM

        I live on a dirt road on 150 acres of land, and you the “driveway” (dirt road that leads up to county road) circles around the house, so hopefully one of my parents wouldn’t see me hiking up the driveway and wonder Now what is our only daughter doing in black with a large backpack and hiking up the road? Just Kidding. I wouldn’t get that far

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rose Lawson February 8, 2016 / 6:16 PM

        Should be “Just Kidding I wouldn’t get that far” and not in italics. If you could fix that, that would rock! 😀

        Like

      • Lana February 17, 2016 / 4:42 PM

        No worries, I fixed it. Also, your comment was funny and made me giggle. 😀 Thanks for the laugh.

        Like

  2. Kit February 6, 2016 / 8:11 PM

    That’s really interesting! I can’t think of other possible scenarios at the moment, but maybe something like… well, you know how main characters often end up needing to steal things? Something like that, except not of course ACTUALLY stealing. Just taking something from a sibling’s room or out of the room you’re in with other people, and seeing if anyone noticed before returning it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kellyn Roth February 7, 2016 / 1:39 PM

      When I was little, I actually got really good at stealing my grandmother’s earrings, watch, and purse right off her body while she talking to other adults and I was bored. It was actually a lot of fun and I’ve learned that I could be a really good pickpocket as long as the person I’m pickpocketing is my distracted grandma. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lana February 8, 2016 / 5:37 PM

        Hehe, that’s awesome! I don’t think I’ve ever pickpocketed anyone before. I’ve tried to with my friends, but they almost always caught me.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Lana February 8, 2016 / 5:41 PM

      Hmm, that is an interesting idea. I don’t know how I’d do that, since I don’t think any of my family members would notice if I stole something unimportant, or if it was important, they might get mad at me for taking it… 🙂 But I may have to try something like this… *muses on ideas*

      Like

  3. Christine Therese February 6, 2016 / 11:05 PM

    Wow, intriguing article. Thanks for sharing this! That must’ve been a really cool experience. I’ll have to give something like this a try some time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lana February 8, 2016 / 5:38 PM

      No problem, and I did enjoy it a lot. You should try something like it, and then tell me how it goes, because I’m interested in others’ experiences with this.

      Like

  4. Shim February 9, 2016 / 9:09 PM

    Ooh, that’s interesting.

    Like

  5. kbl February 14, 2016 / 10:12 AM

    That must’ve been super fun! I can’t imagine you actually climbing out a window well, though! But that sounds super exciting and now I really wanna try it!
    While I’m commenting, I nominated you for a little Q&A thing. It’s called “Infinity Dreams Award”. You can go to kblsewing.wordpress.com and find the post (As of now, it’s the top one) or you can go directly to the post at kblsewing.wordpress.com/infinity-dreams-award – Enjoy!

    Like

    • Lana February 17, 2016 / 4:30 PM

      Heh, really? Well…I wouldn’t say I exactly climbed out of it because it was snowy and there were spiky bushes, but if those were gone, I totally would’ve. 🙂

      Oh yeah, I saw that! Actually, 3 people nominated me for that, and I’m going to post it in a couple of days. No idea who to tag from me though…

      Like

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