Physical Fitness

Many of us spend a lifetime worrying about how we look. We obsess over how our clothes fit, from whether or not we have freedom to move our arms to how tightly the fabric clings to our middles. And so must our characters.

Whether your character is stick-thin or portly, the level of physical fitness affects his approach to life.

Imagine a buff muscular man whose shoulders do not fit in a traditional store-bought suit. What does he do when his luggage is lost? Where does he shop? Does he settle for cheap large-sized clothes or go to a specialty shop? More importantly, how often does he work out? What is his exercise routine like? What does he eat and drink?

What about the svelte woman whose shape is Barbie-doll perfect? What types of clothes does she wear? How does she maintain this shape? Does she starve herself or eat items on fad diets?

And then there are the rest of us, those who aren’t GI Joe or Barbie. What shape is our body in? Do we have love handles? Do our breasts sag down to our bulging waist? Does he have a beer belly? Double chin? Arms that flop in the wind?

How does this body shape affect how we approach life?

Your task is to think of one of your characters in terms of shape and physical fitness. What a short bio in which you list height, weight, hair color, eye color, and then move downward. Include size of clothes and the degree to which clothes hide or cling.

Be as detailed as possible. Don’t be kind if your character is not in perfect shape. Be realistic.

Have fun with this one.

Character Strength

Recently I had a bout of pneumonia, followed by an asthma attack. It has left me weak and tired. I am not able to do much in any given day.

This has led me to think about strength, in all its various forms.

Physical strength is what usually comes to mind first. It is a truth that some people are stronger than others. We hear stories about individuals who, in times of need, lift one end of a car up in the air. There are those who are required for a job to display prowess in a challenge, such as a rope course or an obstacle course in order to be accepted into the military, fire or police departments.

What about emotional strength? I’m the type who cries at anything. Cute kittens, cartoons, a love scene in a movie, all bring me to tears. But I am strong in that I have been able to overcome doubters, people who said I’d never graduate from college, or ones who doubted by husband’s love. I’ve stood up to bullies as a teen and as an adult.

But I’ve known individuals who backed down whenever threatened. Who refused to fight for their rights or speak up when denigrated by a boss.

Stop and think about one of your characters. What kind of strength does he/she have? There has to be something or your character will not be able to carry the weight of a story. No one wants to read about a weakling, a whiner, a defeatist.

Read a section of your story. Find instances where your character shows strength, or, if no strength exhibited, places where you can make slight changes to give your character the skills he/she needs to stand up to the world.

Rewrite a scene or two. Then reread. Do you sense the difference? How do you feel about your character now? If nothing changes, then rework the scene.

Have fun with this one.