Posted by Carolyn Kaufman | @CMKaufman at 9:00 AM
- What's up with those people who attach big metal balls to the back undercarriage of their trucks? Because that's messed up too. (I did a little Googling. They have all kinds of not-so-clever names, and they've been banned in some states. Unfortunately, Ohio is apparently not one of those states. If you haven't seen them and you really want to put yourself through it, you can see some pictures here and here. No more explicit than what you're probably imagining, but maybe not so good to click at work or around small children who might ask awkward questions.)
Keeping questions 1 and 3 in mind, let's focus on Question 2 and relate it back to writing.
Everybody does something called impression management. Impression management is the process by which we try to control what impressions other people form of us. People who are high self-monitorers are more likely to monitor how they're being perceived and adjust their behavior to make the impression they want to make. They see themselves as flexible and good with other people. Low self-monitorers pay less attention to how they're affecting others and just say what they have to say. They see themselves as pragmatic and less easily swayed by others. (If you want to take the self-monitoring scale and see where you fall, you can do that here. Let me know how you come out in the comments!)
Both high and low self-monitorers use impression management, they just use it differently based on how they want to be perceived. One wants to be perceived in whatever way is most favorable in that particular situation; the other wants to be seen as independent and unswayed by others.
Start paying attention to the way people around you manage impressions. Because the guy with the tail on his motorcycle, he was trying to give a particular impression. I sincerely doubt it was Team Jacob, but that did come to mind. Maybe he was going for something cool and independent like lone wolf? If he was, it backfired, because I just thought seriously, what's up with that? and then started thinking about other weird things that make me wonder the same thing (hence, the truck balls).
Honestly, if I'd seen him in a parking lot, I'd have gone up and asked him what was up with the wolf tail, just to find out what he really was thinking.
What impressions do your characters want to give other people? Do they want to seem competent? Cool? Friendly? Sexy? Something else?
How do they try to convey that? (For that matter, how do you try to convey that in the story?)
How might it backfire?
I'll be interested to read your thoughts in the comments!