From your Character’s Point of View

Imagine a character that you would like to write about. Before you include him in the story, take time to write a character study from his point of view.

You must use first person. You can begin anywhere and you do not have to proceed sequentially. Consider it more of a stream of conscious rambling.

Somewhere in the text tell something about his appearance, but do not give a list of features. Mention one or two, just a little something to help us see him as he sees himself.

Put us inside his mind. We want to know what he thinks about things. Consider politics, employment, housing, future goals, but don’t try to cover everything. Only hit the most salient points, those that help you develop him so that including him in a story becomes easier.

Your task is to write at least a page of text. When you reread, ask yourself how much you revealed about him and whether or not there are more things that should be included as well as what should be deleted.

Have fun with this one.

An Interesting Main Character

Let’s face it, your readers have to care about the main character. They don’t necessarily have to like the character, but they have to be interested in what he does, thinks, says.

If you expect the readers to spend time with your writing, then you must give them a reason to read. A boring protagonist, someone who has no opinions, faces no challenges, is never confrontational and lives only to please others will not inspire readers to make it to the end.

Main characters are usually imperfect. They have flaws which give them compelling personalities. Those flaws create challenges that the characters must surmount in order to succeed.

Your task is two-fold. First write a brief story about a practically perfect character. Put them in a scene that poses no challenges, no obstacles to overcome. People the story with likable friends, bosses, partners.

When you finish, analyze the piece. If you were a reader, how would you react?

Your next step is to rewrite the story with a flawed character whose life has pitfalls and confrontation. The character struggles to succeed. At the end something changes about the character. Either she overcomes and experiences a cathartic change, or she is deeper into her problems.

This time when you reread, do you sense a difference in your interest level?

Have fun with this one.

Walk into the Past

Today was a wonderful day for me. I got to relive good times in my past.

It got me to thinking that our characters can take similar walks.

What would they see? Feel? Do?

Even if you never include the information in your writing, it might allow you to see deeper into your character’s mind.

Your task is to send your character somewhere new and different, somewhere where artifacts from the past pop, up in rapid succession.

Write the scene. Mention the object in terms of the memory that it triggers.

Include as many objects as you can.

Have fun with this one.

People Watching

Can’t think of a character, setting or problem? Go somewhere and sit for a while.

Choose a place that is heavily trafficked. A shopping mall, park or busy street in a commercial district.

Bring a notebook with you as well as a camera. When you see an interesting character, take a picture, but also record how the character walks, what he is carrying, whether or not he is on the phone, and if he is walking alone.

Give the character personality. For example, maybe she’s a CEO of a start-up company and is hurrying off to a meeting that she’s worried about. Perhaps she has a sick child at home or just got a call from her daughter’s teacher.

Describe the setting. Is it bland or colorful? What types of buildings? Tall skyscrapers or low slung town homes. A park with green grass and flowers in bloom, or a snow covered field. Blue sky, pouring rain or skittering clouds.

Then take a look for another potential character and do the same.

Each time imagine the story that the character has to tell. Jot down ideas. Did he have a happy childhood or were his parents abusive? Does she keep in contact with her siblings or are they distant? Why?

When you get home, think about the stories you can tell. Begin writing. Use a stream of conscious flow of words. Let the story tell itself.

At the end, reread and look for places where you can embellish or deepen the conflict. Edit out unnecessary words. Add dialogue that develops the character’s personality.

When you are finished, you will have an original story. Plus, you will have enough information to write a few more!

Have fun with this one.