Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction

Character Mining: The Man in the Cheap Green Suit


Man in the Green SuitWriters need to make up real lives for their fictional characters. They don’t appear fully developed in a scene. This takes detailed, accurate research.

I do this by observing people wherever I go.

When I was called for grand jury duty a few years back, I had a lot of time to people-watch. The day dragged, until I got into the courtroom and witnessed the initial trial proceedings. That’s when things picked up.

While the judge and state prosecutor bandied some legal mumbo-jumbo back and forth, the defense attorney whispered to his client. I decided to get a fix on the defendant whose jury I might be called upon to serve. At the same time, I could gather some shady character nuggets for my next book.

I looked this thirty-something guy over.  He needed a shave; his hair could have used a style; and his cheap green suit was wrinkled.  The charge against him was embezzlement. (The thought crossed my mind that, if I’d been him, I would have taken some of that money I embezzled to buy a better suit for my hearing.)

I watched his every move. He yawned like he was as bored as everyone else in the court room. Not a good move for a defendant. He bit his nails and snorted. I tried to keep an open mind before I heard the evidence, but in my gut I knew this guy was guilty

When the judge and the prosecutor stopped their hashing about, the judge spoke: “Will counsel for the defendant rise.”

Up stood the man in the green suit.


No problem, easy fix.  Now my shady character is a dishonest public defender.

PS:  True story. You may be relieved to know I was not chosen to serve on this jury.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Mt 7:1-2)

2 thoughts on “Character Mining: The Man in the Cheap Green Suit

  1. Very funny. You lead the reader along with you on your logical, but incorrect assumption. And we all laugh at the end.


  2. Ha! So easy to be fooled by the package!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s