All posts by Erin Unger

Snow: So Like Humans

The snow has come to lay upon the ground in the most glorious of fashions. One minute rain poured from the sky, the next, huge flakes almost the size of a cracker began to land on the ground just a couple hours ago. I stood in amazement. They had to be the biggest I’d ever seen.

To some who abhor even the thought of snow I can imagine the horror at the forecast for today, but for those snow lovers like myself, it was a most wonderful addition to my afternoon.

There’s nothing like looking out onto the whitest of white yards. I can’t help but think of God when I do. The beauty of it is like the clean slate he gives us to shape and mold our talents.

Snow can be such a malleable substance, or it can turn to hard ice. Isn’t it amazing how it is so like humans? When we’re as snow, God can make igloos and snowmen, trails and sledding tracks, snowballs and beautiful white garlands on trees with us. But when we’re like ice, there’s little to be done. It takes the salt to melt or the sharp blade to cut to turn ice into anything.

I want to be as snow: washed white and ready to be used. I want to be a clean slate for God to work with. Just imagine what He can do with us writers. Think how we can be shaped to change the world with our words. Our words can be delicate as a cold flake in our palm or as powerful as an igloo wall. And we can do it all for His glory.

I hope that today, if you have the fortune of looking upon a glistening wintry scene, you’ll allow it to be a representation of who God wants you to be.

A Christmas Character Trait

This is the best time of the year. So many wonderful things to see and do entrance me. Don’t you love the holiday music in most stores? How about the swags and wreaths everywhere? And the sunny farewells from store clerks?

It’s a great time to observe most people at their best. And why would that be important? Who cares if the usually grumpy cashier is has a quirk in his mouth that may suggest a small smile daring to escape? Why would you want to notice your bank teller is singing under her breath? Aren’t you too busy for these little nuances to matter?

But matter they do to a writer. Building character traits that jive and work together are paramount. Your keen eye will help make your characters more believable when you use your observations. People are consistent for the most part. All personalities tend to follow a pattern that can help you categorize their traits. Yes, we all know that certain things make us individualistic, but there are still general traits that make up a personality type.

Observation is the best way to learn, and first-hand experience is key. With just a few extra moments, we can mentally catalog these changes in the behavior of the people we encounter on a regular basis. Later, take the time to write a few notes in a journal so you can refer back to them. This will improve your writing by giving continuity to the personalities you’ve chosen to work with.

It’s great to read up on the subject too. There are excellent books on the subject, like Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, by Dr. Linda Edelstein.

Keep your eyes open. You’ll be surprised on what you pick up this wonderful, busy, sometimes crazy season.