Writing Exercise: Disasters

This post is inspired by the massive flooding which took place in my area this week. Take one of your characters and throw them into the middle of a disaster, man-made or natural. How does your character react to the disaster itself? To the people who may be around them? To the aftermath? Does your character turn out to be a natural born leader who takes charge of the situation? Do they panic and allow others to take over while they are inconsolable? Feel free to do this exercise with as many characters and disasters as you’d like. This could be a powerful exercise to really see the character’s personality come through, which in turn, would play a part in your novel or story.

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Characters 101: Naming Technique #1

Many writers know how difficult it can be to name characters, especially characters whom are part of other worlds. This technique is one that I have been able to use successfully. Take any magazine and turn it to the page which have the names of those who contributed to the magazine. Close your eyes and use your index finger to choose a name twice. Write both names down so it’ll be easier to see the combinations you could come up with. For this, I’ll use a few examples:

Athena + Kate = Kathena

Nathan + William = Wilthan; Nathiam

Lynn + Stephanie = Lynanie (or Lynnanie); Stephalyn (or Stephalynn); Lynnie

As you can see, this technique could open up multiple names for you to use. Goodbye name generators (if you’re writing and not able to go online, lest you get distracted) and hello a new writing tool! Have fun coming up with creations, and feel free to leave your creations below in the comments to show me and the other readers how powerful this technique is!

Character Building 101: Obituaries

In this post, I will talk about an unconventional way to create characters. As the title suggests, an obituary is a great writing tool. Look in any local newspaper and you’ll probably see pages of them. Now, I’m not saying to copy the life of somebody outright. Why pick only one when you can mix and match several obituaries to create an interesting backstory for your characters? If you see any photos, you could even cut them out for inspiration and add the photos to your inspiration notebook or however you keep your information in order. I hope you all find this tip helpful, and I’m sorry it is such a small post. I like to get to the point and leave it at that.

Character Building 101: The Murder Victim

In this post, we will talk about the victim of a murder at the beginning of a mystery. Some authors introduce the victim and the crime scene, then create a cookie cutter story where the cops/detective try to solve the crime and capture the suspect(s).

In order to create a great story, the victim needs to have their own background. When you create a murder victim, they need to be created as the other characters in the story are created. Even if you do not use all of the details, it is important to know who the character was.

If you start with the murder victim, or have the victim become the second character created, you can fill in the rest of the “cast” within your story. The victim’s family, friends, enemies and co-workers are potential suspects. They can fill in the details of the victim to your main character as the main character tries to solve the mystery and bring the suspect(s) to justice.

Not everything the suspects say to your main character has to be true. The main character can hear one thing and find out the opposite is actually true during the investigation. Ask yourself, was the murder intentional or was it an accident? What would the killer gain, if the victim was intentionally murdered? Was it revenge, a blackmail threat towards another character, a hostage? In the event the murdered character was a hostage, say for example a bank robbery, is it possible the victim was a target for one of the robbers? Perhaps the victim was in charge of the bank branch, and the robbers were paid by somebody who was fired or thought they were wronged in some way?

Another question to ask is, how has this death impacted the other characters who knew them? Was the victim the sole provider of his family? if so, how has their family coped with the news? Has anyone began to show addictive behaviors? Want to go on a rampage trying to take the law into their own hands? Perhaps the victim was a harsh person and those around the victim are glad that they’re gone?

These elements should come into play for any sort of mystery/suspense novel that has to do with a murder. Emotions and personality types should also come into play. As with all stories, this type of story would need to have research dealing with psychology to make the most impact on your various characters and the readers.

Writing Exercise: The Villain’s Spawn

Here is a writing exercise found within the pages of the Writer’s Digest (I highly recommend this magazine!) though this one was for a contest at the time. I feel it would be a great character building exercise, especially for those of you who have this type of character for a current story, or plan on this type. Here we go!:

Imagine you are the offspring of a villianous character. This could be a character within your own story, a character inspired from a fairy tale, or even a character within a movie/TV show. You are not as evil as your evil parent(s), so they are disappointed in you. Write the parent(s) a letter explaining to them why you are not as evil and how you became that way. Explain why you are not interested in the dark side. This exercise could be humorous, serious, funny, or any other tone you would like to do.

Writing Exercise: April Fool’s Day (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the previous exercise, or it could be a stand alone exercise. Provided you created a scene of you explaining the tradition of April Fool’s Day, you can enlist whichever character(s) you’d like to help you play pranks on the unsuspecting characters. Were there any characters you didn’t think would help out with the pranks helping you? How sadistic have they become with their pranks towards the others? Perhaps they did something as outragious as replacing the toilet paper with Duct Tape? Or managing to get somebody’s vehicle on top of a roof? This exercise is meant to inspire you to have a lot of fun, as well as getting to know your pranksters a little better. These April Fool’s Day posts were short, however, I hope you can come up with a lot of material, perhaps some could even make it into your story!

Writing Exercise: April Fool’s Day (Part 1)

For this exercise, choose any character(s) you’d like to tell about April Fool’s Day. They could be told individually, or in a group. What are their reactions? How do the characters react to each other’s reactions? Are any of the characters surprised at another for liking the idea behind this day? Do any of the characters have similar customs where they come from? If they do, do their customs have them do anything different? This little exercise is meant to help you understand your characters and their world better.