Saturday, April 7, 2012

F is for Fishing

Okay, this post isn't completely about fishing. I'm not a great fisherman nor do I spend a lot of time doing it. But a lot of people have this as a hobby or even a profession. It seems to be a noble, hard-working profession. Many of the original Apostles of Jesus Christ were fishermen by trade before they became the fishers of men.
So why do I bring it up? It is writing related, I promise. I want to talk about one character from The Wheel of Time, one of my favorite series. It is Siuan Sanche. She holds the office of Amyrlin Seat, making her one of the most powerful and influential characters in the series.

And... she is a daughter of a fisherman.

What I find remarkable is that she always makes references to boats and fishing. And she is the only character in this series who does, and this series has A LOT of characters. Fishing allegories and sayings are part of her unique voice. She is one to continually swear, "Fish guts!" throughout the series. She will constantly use fishing quotes to clarify her points:

"When there are fish heads and blood in the water, you don't need to see the silverpike to know they are there."

"like catching trout with cannonballs"

"You catch no fish if they see the net."

"When a boat has one leak, it is sure to have others."

"But when you don't have an oar, child, any plank will do to paddle the boat ashore."

"If you must drown or ride a lionfish, you ride and hope for the best."

"Caution gets the boat home."

"An anchor is not demeaned by being used to hold a boat."

"A bird cannot teach a fish to fly, nor a fish teach a bird to swim."

This uniqueness makes her one of my favorite characters in the series. I believe that this could be a good approach if you are trying to add life to one of your characters. For instance, I don't know much about fishing but I do know a lot about baseball. Maybe I could have a character who is always making baseball analogies and quoting from movies like "The Natural" and "Field of Dreams." Pretty soon that character stands out in readers' minds and also stands out in dialogue. But I think part of that trick is to keep that unique to one character.