Life’s Journey

            Characters are a product of their life’s experiences. The things they seen and done are major influencers in who they are at the time of the story. From birth, the people in their lives affect what they believe, what foods they eat, the clothing they wear, the attitude to education that they have.

            Imagine a character who grows up in a loving, fostering home. His attitude toward obstacles life presents will be completely different from obstacles that pop up in the life of someone who was abused in some way. It makes sense. In the first situation the character might love challenges and new experiences while the second individual might be fearful and prefer hiding at home.

            When you create a character you need to construct their life’s journey as a background into who they have become. This is different from a character arc. The arc traces the character’s trajectory throughout the story, encapsulating the events that change her as the story progresses.

            The life’s journey shows the path that she walked as the years passed by.

            Your task is to create a life’s journey for a new character that you would like to include in a story. Graph paper might be the best source as it allows for increments of time spaced out in measured blocks. Start at a point when they first event occurred. This could be birth or the first day of school. Add elements that played important parts, both negative and positive.

            When finished, using the data you’ve detailed, write a memoir-like story of his life.

            Have fun with this one.

Searching for Love

            What would you do to find the love of your life? Would you hang out in singles’ bars or join a singles’ club? If a friend tried to set you up with a blind date, would you go? Perhaps you’d sign up for one of those online matching sites? If you heard about an event only for singles, would you go?

            What would you wear? Your normal every-day clothes or a fancy outfit? Hiking boots or polished dress shoes?

            Before the date, what preparations would you make? Haircut, pedicure and nails? Massage or acupuncture? Visit a mystic to hear what might happen in the future?

            Your task is to imagine that you are writing a love story. Work out the details of your character. Think beyond the physical. Consider socioeconomic, education completed, job status, living conditions and personality. What does your character want from a partner? A one-night stand or a long-term marriage? Children and pets? Common interests or differences so as to learn from each other?

            Once you’ve done all the background work, it’s time to write. Establish setting, remembering that place and time period are major considerations. Include narrative and dialogue supported by action. Will this be a love-at-first-sight story or will there be conflict before love occurs?

            Have fun with this one.

Defining Moment in Time

I can remember when we moved from Ohio to California at the end of my freshman year of high school. I looked forward to the change, although I was quite nervous about switching schools.

However, the one thing that inspired me to want to move was the possibility of going to college. If we had stayed in Ohio, I most likely would never have been able to afford tuition and so would have had two choices: work a low-wage job or get married. I didn’t want either.

California had community colleges whose tuition would be affordable as long as I worked doing something. This was my door to a bigger, brighter, happier world.

For this reason, moving was a defining moment in time for me.

What about your character? What is her defining moment? Was it the birth of her first child? Graduating from law school? Getting hired at the tech company of his dreams? Being accepted into nursing school the first time he applied?

Your task is to make a list of at least three defining moments for your protagonist. Make them huge. Next to each item, write a few words about how that moment changed your character’s life.

Choose just one moment and write a scene that includes not just how it impacted her life, but her emotions when it occurred. Think before, during and after.

After you’ve finished, reread and see if you captured the emotions. If you have, then congratulations are in order. If not, then rework it until you have.

Have fun with this one.