Hampton Roads Writers

Writing Prompt for September 11, 2008

What a character


Instructions: If all your characters think exactly the same way you do, then they're not very well-rounded. Characters should appear to the reader to be real people, with their own histories, thoughts, and opinions. In this exercise, we'll explore characters through their opinions of current events.

1. Choose a current event about which you have a strong opinion, or about which you've spent a lot of time thinking.

2. Choose one of your characters. You might find it easiest to do this exercise first with a character whose opinion is very like your own, or with one whose opinion is very different. Or start with the character you know best.

3. Write a monologue or essay from that character's point of view, about your chosen current event. Write for as long as it takes for your character to express his or her opinion. Remember to write as if you were that character, or as if the charcter is writing through you. If you character would be very straightforward about stating his/her thoughts, then be straightforward. If your character would try to hide his/her real opinions, then do that. Let the character's voice take over.

4. Set what you've written aside. Read over it later. You should learn some interesting things about your character, which you may be able to use in a story.

5. Repeat the exercise as often as you like, with other characters. You could write one character each evening for a week.

Notes: Even if your characters are in a fantasy world of your own construction, they can still have opinions on "real world" events. Write as if these characters were able to see into the real world--you can try pretending that our world is a television show, or a play, or a series of novels in their world if you have trouble imagining how yours character could be aware of the real world as well as their own. In fact, you can even try this exercise if you are using real-life historical characters by imagining what they would have thought of life today.


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