However, while I was traveling through southern England last month and periodically writing, where did my second-most important character wind up? At another beach: Teignmouth, in the Devon region of England.
This, of course, is a less likely scenario than the Jersey shore, but imagining him all the way in Teignmouth, a Victorian/Edwardian English resort, freed me up to develop his personality. That was my goal as I was writing passages about him near the Teignmouth pier one morning two weeks ago.
Over the past months I have been developing my main character, but had zilch when it came to the second-most important one and I was getting frustrated. I knew why I was stuck--the secondary character was too "close-to-home" literally and culturally and so I kept stereotyping him based on what I know of the surface of local boys. I sat at a picnic table in Teignmouth with a cappuccino, looking out at the water, telling myself, "you can relax now...so write!" and so of course I was completely stuck. Then it dawned on me: Make the character visit here too, describe how HE sees it (not just how I see it). If he were to visit this place, he, and his family, would be very, very much out of their comfort zone. How would he/they handle it? What would they do if they were here for a few days? How would it change them? There's nothing particularly exciting about Teignmouth, but it's pretty and relaxed before British schools let out. I imagined the character, initially uncomfortable with the place, would end up enjoying it, and it would change his perspective on certain matters--and I wrote that out. I may not use a lot of the material, but it helped me finally develop aspects of his character. I agree--where you are stuck on a character and can't move along...bring him or her somewhere else, particularly somewhere new to you, the writer.