Developing a New Character

            It’s easy to reuse characters that we know and love. We’ve already established who they are, what they like and don’t like and the things they do. We’ve created friends, jobs, homes. And enemies as well as tension points.

            Your task is to create an entirely new character.

Do some online photo research by putting in age, skin color and gender. From that range of photos, choose one that seems the most likely to star in your next story.

Expand your search to include things they might wear, from top to bottom.

Add a quirk to their appearance. It might be a sprinkling of freckles or an entire constellation of them. Perhaps there’s a mustache turned up at the ends or maybe a hint of beard. Short hair, long, or none at all. Blonde, bleached blonde, tinted with blue or shaven completely off.

Choose height. Do you want your character to tower over others in an intimidating way or to be short and diminutive? Heavy or wiry? Muscular or flabby? Short neck or long? Wide square shoulders or droopy ones?

Next come up with about three likes and three dislikes. For example, hates bacon but loves rap music. Loves boots but hates the smell of coffee.

The more unusual the character, the more interesting the story will be.

Have fun with this one.

Creative Nonfiction: Important Events

Creative nonfiction requires observation. It is more concerned with what is being observed than with imagination. When we write stories from our life, we try to reconstruct events, to the best of our ability, as we remember them happening.

The catalyst for writing does not have to be a tragic loss. What is necessary is to explore the significance of specific events and our reaction to them. Readers want to know how the event affected the writer and whether or not those effects still permeate the writer’s life well after the conclusion of the event.

To find things to rewrite, begin by skimming a newspaper or informational website. Stop when a headline speaks to you. Read, looking to see what resonates with you. If nothing does, then search some more.

Your task, after reading an interesting article, is to write. You might begin with a free write in which you put into words anything that comes to mind.

Go back and search for information that raises specific questions. Imagine scenarios that you could expand into story.

Write a simple sketch of the story that comes to mind. Reread, looking for places where you can add detail and emotion. Reread again. Add more detail.

Have fun with this one.