Favorite Books

Whenever someone asks me which book is my favorite, I have to honestly say that I love all kinds of books. I read constantly. Usually I am reading two books at the same time. And I read across genres.

What about your character? What does she like to read? What is it about her preferred genre that she enjoys?

Your task is to generate a list of at least five different things that your protagonist reads. Include a variety of materials, including papers and magazines.

Once you have established the list, narrow it down to the two that you feel could be influential in a story.

Put things in motion. Perhaps she is in the library reading her favorite periodical. How does she react? What feelings run through her head? What happens when someone walks up and interrupts her reading?

Write the story. When you finish, reread for details. Make sure that something compelling happens.

Have fun with this one.

Socioeconomic Status

            How much money someone has affects the things that he does, thinks, and says. It impacts future dreams and the things that she hopes to accomplish.

For example, a person who grows up in a wealthy family has everything that she could ever possibly want. Nice clothes, a comfortable bed, good food and all the electronics that one could possibly want. He may attend a private school with other entitled children so never knows what it’s like to have class disrupted by unruly students or may have never witnessed a lunchtime brawl.

This character grows into an adult with distinct advantages in terms of status, education and outlook. He has experienced nothing but the best and desires to maintain that status.

Then consider the low income child who grows up in a tiny studio apartment with eight family members. Who is often hungry and wears ragged hand-me-down shoes and clothes. Who falls ill frequently or has to accompany non-English speaking relatives to appointments to act as translator and so misses great amounts of school.

Perhaps she moves around a lot, from one shelter to another, and so schools change weekly. Most shelters are in low income neighborhoods so she does not have access to modern technology in terms of computer labs, WiFi and calculators. School lunches are adequate, probably free, but not delicious. She knows of students who come to school high on drugs, who sell their bodies and who are bellicose.

Think about how these differing early lives affect how your character behaves in your story.

Your task is to decide into which socioeconomic group your character belongs. Then make a bullet-point list of the structures in this person’s life, beginning with the home environment. Consider size of the home, family living there, quality of food and clothes, and what possessions the character owns. Include on your list the things the character sees in his daily life, as he walks down the street, rides in a car or bus, goes into a store, eats at a soup kitchen or restaurant.

Once you have completed your list, write a short scene in which these elements come into play.

This is not an easy task.

Have fun with this one.

Leisure Activities

What does your character like to do for fun? It’s an important criteria to consider when creating a given character, for such activities influence the events of the story.

For example, if your character began swimming competitively as a child and still swims today, then when he has free time, he’ll choose to go to the pool. It also means that he could use his skills to solve a crime or create a crime.

Scrapbooking is a huge business right now. Many people love to organize photos and memories into these books, pasting in not just pictures, but also decorations that support a given theme. If one of your characters likes to scrapbook, then the finished products could be used to search for a missing child, decorate a hall for a banquet, or evidence to convict a criminal.

Your task is to create a list of activities that your character might enjoy. It might be important to stick to those things that you are familiar with, unless, of course, you want to spend time researching. Try to get at least ten items on your list.

Then  willow it down to the top five.  Embellish these five by listing when and where and with whom the activities take place. For example, swimming could be a solitary activity, or it could be team-based if your character continues to compete today.

From this expanded list settle on one that feels most like your character.

Now write a scene in which she prepares to participate in this activity, or tells someone about it, or tries to convince someone else to join in. Don’t flood the reader with details about the activity, but rather let the reader experience it through the eyes of the character.

Have fun with this one.