Monday, June 20, 2016

What do your characters think?

Got one (or two) of your characters stuck? Don't know what to do with him/her? Is he/she getting too boring or predictable? Want to know more about his/her personality? Or maybe you have a story forming in the back of your mind but you don't know what to do with it just yet; you have a character but he/she isn't clear at this time.

Here's a quick, but fun, fix -- set your character up for a surprise and find out how he/she reacts.

A. First, choose a number from 1 to 5 -- quick! Done? See what you chose:

1. a pearl anklet
2. a bottle of expensive perfume
3. a silk shirt
4. a plain gold ring/band
5. a high-end cellphone

B. Next, choose another number from 1 to 5. Now see what you picked:

1. moldy bread
2. a used toothpick
3. a bottle of dead cockroaches
4. cotton buds drenched in blood
5. a dirty sock

C. Next, pick another number from 1 to 5. Here's what you picked:

1. a knapsack
2. a laptop bag
3. a plastic bag
4. a gift-wrapped box
5. a gym bag

D. Finally, pick yet another number -- yes, from 1 to 5. I promise this is the last time :o)

1. a convention
2. election day
3. Thanksgiving
4. a high school reunion
5. a store opening

Now put the plain gold ring/band (A) and the bottle of dead cockroaches (B) in a knapsack (C). Your character discovers the knapsack in the car of the incumbent mayor's chief of security on election day (D). Your character opens the knapsack and...

What's your character's reaction when he/she pulls out the "good" item, followed by the "bad" item"? Write it out. Get the emotions out of your character. Continue by exploring your character's thoughts -- What are his/her assumptions for the presence of those items in the knapsack? How does he/she connect the items with the circumstances?

Pick the items at random and experiment with your character's reactions. You have at least 500 "set ups" for your character at your disposal by combining the items in the 4 lists above.

Copyright (c) 2004 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
Shery created WriteSparks! - a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks! Lite for free -

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