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.
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.
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!
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.
You are walking with your main character as they are going to their personal space to grab something that they need. Describe their personal space. Is it a cave? A house of some kind? An apartment?
Wherever it is they live, where is the place located? In the wilderness? A farm? A city? What item are they walking home to get? Is there more than one item? Is the item theirs or are they holding it for somebody? Is the ite magical or hold some kind of importance?
You follow your character into their bedroom. What does their bedroom look like? Does the decor match their personality? Their social status? Their financial status? How does your character react to somebody entering into their personal space? Do they become angry, embarrassed or look guilty about you being in their space? Do you see any clues to why your character would be any of those with you in their space? Is it because of their personality?
This exercise is meant to help you gain another location for your story. It may also help you bring depth to your main character, as well as any plot devices (the item they were going to retrieved) your story could use. I hope this exercise helped open another element/story option for you to use.
In today’s exercise, we are going to think of your novel as a movie. You are the director and you have been given a large amount of money to create the movie from an anonymous benefactor. Who would play your characters? With money as no object, you can hire anybody in the world. The characters do not have to be played by actors and actresses. Would there be a model that you have in mind? A sports star? Singer? A regular person you see at school? If you are able, print off pictures of the people you cast. Or take them from a magazine/newspaper to put into something like a binder or spiral notebook for visual inspiration.
As you take the time to visualize your scenes, place these people as the characters. As you imagine your scenes, you want to be aware of the scents, sights, sounds, emotions and how things would feel if the characters were to touch them. I think that is the best description of what an author is, the director of their book, so it takes a lot of imagination to choreograph all of the scenes in order to make sure they flow in a way that is comprehensible. As the director, you want to take control of the scenes so that they play out in the way you want them to.
If you can imagine your scenes as you’re writing them, great! Go ahead and do that, to get what is in your head down on paper or screen. If you cannot do each simultaneously, go ahead and imagine your scenes one at a time, in order, and write down the thoughts, ideas, impressions you get. Then, as you go back to write the scenes out, you can return to your notes and read them over.
I hope this exercise will greatly help you in your writing endeavors in the future. Remember, you have to have fun writing in order to please yourself and ultimately, your readers. Have fun!
Sorry I haven’t posted anything all weekend. I’m currently sick with the flu, so I’m not 100%. I’ll think of more content while I’m off work resting. This exercise is meant for character and world building.
Imagine that you are telling one or more of your characters all about Valentine’s Day. What do you tell them? What do they think of the way Valentine’s Day is usually spent? Do they have a similar holiday in their world? If your characters are based in our world, do they have a ritual or two that they do every year? If so, what is it and why do they do it?