Hampton Roads Writers

Writing Prompt for October 19, 2008

Characterization 5

The following exercise serves the purpose of encouraging you to think in less conventional and stereotypical ways about how fictional characters’ actions and motivations are linked – or not – to their appearance and cultural backgrounds, with the overall aim of discouraging the reliance on archetype and stereotype in character development.

  • Our preconceptions of our own characters are heavily informed by conventions of the cultural context, era, time and place, etc. that the story takes place in. Rewrite a part of a short story you have written (usually one scene), resetting the narrative in a different place and/or culture or a different time in the place where it originally takes place (of course, this will not always be feasible if the original story is heavily dependent on its own historical/geographical context), using what you know about that place or time.

  • 1. How did your perceptions of your characters change?
    2. What did you learn about them?
    3. To what extent did the original narrative survive the transposition?


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