27 January 2010

Big Things, Little Things

Hey, Friends! Happy Wednesday!

So on Monday we talked a bit about being overwhelmed and displaced. I think at some point we've all experienced that, whether from a first day at a new school (or college), a new job, a move, or even a life change.

I cope with this a lot in missions, especially when going overseas for long periods of time (and then returning). It's to the point now where I often feel like I "belong" in other cultures. America sometimes is the hardest adjustment for me. It just depends on the trip and my situation when I get there. I've learned the hard way not to take anything too seriously the first week or so. My "balance" is off then. I'm exhausted, everything is new and different, and it's easy for things to take impractical proportions.

Like I said on Friday, my faith is a huge thing to help me through. But I've discovered little things have great impact as well. Like laughter with friends. I was surrounded by dear friends on Friday, people who I love and get to work with now. They helped me set up my room, unpacked my things, folded my clothes, made my bed and whatever else needed to be done while I flitted from one box to another and tried to create a beautiful room. They used their gifts to help me through, whether it was humor, decorating, etc. My room looks beautiful now. We accomplished in a few hours what I couldn't have done in an evening. And we had fun doing it!

When we left for town there wasn't much left to do. Just little things that I couldn't complete until I bought things like hooks, shelves, etc. I woke Saturday still overwhelmed, wondering if I should rearrange the furniture again I finished everything. But I couldn't do anything because of an adventure in Chattanooga. When I came back late that night, I had a surprise waiting for me. My incredible roommate and a friend put my bookshelves together for me! When I saw that, my "overwhelmed" feeling disappeared. I felt at home. She has no idea what such a little thing meant to me--not only because I'm a writer and a reader, but because it involved energy and time I didn't have.

So... little things. Big things. They are important. And they vary in power depending on our hearts. As I brainstorm for my mc, I try to keep little things in mind. I think they seal the character for us, ya know? It's easier to come up with the big things, but the secret details, the ones that make the character breathe life and step out of that two dimensional mold, those are difficult to unearth. I hope I'm doing enough. I hope it works. Right now I need to write it out and see what happens!

Have you found the little things for your characters?

See y'all Friday for the story of the adventure in Chattanooga!


  1. All the best with that writing. I agree. Write it all out :)

  2. "As I brainstorm for my mc, I try to keep little things in mind. I think they seal the character for us, ya know? It's easier to come up with the big things, but the secret details, the ones that make the character breathe life and step out of that two dimensional mold, those are difficult to unearth"

    So true! It is those little things that bring our characters to life. I usually nail the big things on the rough draft and after my first read through, find a way to discover little things and weave those through as I revise. My characters are pretty two dimensional the firs time around.

    Great post, Kristen!

  3. Great post Kristen! I hadn't thought about this, but now I see I should have.
    Sounds like you have some wonderful friends.

  4. I love this. I love that your new friends helped you feel comfortable. You're so brave. Wonderful analogy. It is the little things that make up the whole.

  5. Little things are truly BIG things. Being around good friends can make a sad heart smile... thanks for the beautiful post :)

  6. I need to build in more hooks and shelves for my characters. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Sometimes I focus to much on the big things the little things get neglected.
    ~ Wendy

  7. I do that too, Wendy!

    You're welcome, Roxy! Thank you!

    Sometimes little things keep me calm, Mary, ya know?

    I do, Jessica! They are awesome!

    Thank you, Tabitha and Katie!

  8. Beautifully said, and so true. I know the little things for most of my characters in my WIP, but am working out the details on some of the side characters. I agree that those things make the writing seem authentic.

  9. Excellent point! Knowing the little things seal the character for us to make decisions on how the big things will play out. There are some aspects of my character as a writer that I must know, but the reader may never know.

    Make sense?!

  10. I find that it's not only little quirks, but little details from their past that reflect on the present situation. Sometimes a past that the character only reveals to me through her thoughts.

  11. Yes, I work at the "little things." My heroine in WIP used to suck her thumb for comfort during the harshness that was her home, and she still rubs her thumb against her finger or against material when the heat is on.

    (Got this little quirk from someone near and dear to me!!) So beware of displaying quirks around writers!!!

  12. Looking forward to your adventure story!! Congrats on the 100+ followers!! I just noticed that :)

    I'm feeling displaced and overwhelmed right now. The little things do help. Like a cup of tea and a quiet phone. A moment's break in the sunlight. Little things. I need more of those. It seems like everything right now is soooo huge and over my head. Ah well.

    Enjoy getting settled! Love you!

  13. I loved this post, Kristen - such a powerful message and so perfectly said. You and your adventures continue to be in my daily prayers. I look forward to hearing more on Friday! :-)

  14. Thank you, Shannon!

    Jack--I hope things settle down for you... sorry they are out of whack!

    That is a great quirk, Patti! I know--I watch for things in people around me too!

    Those reflections are huge, Laura. Thanks for pointing that out!

    Definitely makes sense, Tamika! There are some things we need to know but not share. Thanks for that reminder!

    Thank you, Linda and Tess!

  15. I love finding the little things for my characters, the little idiosyncrasies that make them unique. You're right, it's often all about the little things. Great post!

  16. So glad you're getting settled and finding the small blessings already in your new adventure. Happy Birthday late! What an amazing way to start a new year of life. It's always the little things, isn't it? They make us or break us.

  17. Something's in the air. I've visited several blogs today that have been focused on just this subject, small blessings are something to be grateful for. Thanks for reminding me.

  18. Glad you're past the overwhelmed stage of moving. Very exhausting to look at boxes and not be able to find anything. :O)

  19. Yes it is, Diane!

    You're welcome, Elizabeth!

    Thanks, Deb! They definitely do!

    thanks, Cindy!

  20. Hi Kristen -

    I'm glad you're settled into your new room. Helpful friends make a big difference.

    As I read books, I notice how the writer gives the character subtle expressions or a wry sense of humor. All those things make them come to life. I try to incorporate those features into my own writing.

    Susan :)

  21. You have good friends and you're right about breathing life into characters. Breathe away!

  22. Can't wait to hear about your adventure!

  23. It sounds like you have wonderful friends. What a blessing that is. I'm glad you're starting to feel settled again.

  24. FYI: I left a little something for you over at my place (Woolgathering that is) :)


  25. I don't find the little things for my characters until the second pass. Sometimes the third. Or maybe the fourth. And that's when it finally all comes together. Sometimes that's frustrating for me, but most of the time I just muddle through the best I can.

  26. Thanks, John! I'll go by and check it out!

    You have great patience, Elana! That's awesome!

  27. I'm new here, visiting by way of Jen's suggestion from Woolgatherings.

    I like your thoughts on little & big things. "They are important. And they vary in power depending on our hearts."
    So true.

    I spend whatever "extra" time and space I have in my head to think through my characters. It is an unfolding experience and always surprises me.