Monday, February 14, 2011

Set Up Your Characters by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

Got one (or two) of your characters stuck? Don't know what to do with 
him/her? Is he/she getting too boring or predictable? Want to know more 
about his/her personality? Or maybe you have a story forming in the back 
of your mind but you don't know what to do with it just yet; you have a 
character but he/she isn't clear at this time. 
 
Here's a quick, but fun, fix -- set your character up for a surprise and 
find out how he/she reacts.
 
A. First, choose a number from 1 to 5 -- quick! Done? See what you chose:
 
1. a pearl anklet
2. a bottle of expensive perfume
3. a silk shirt
4. a plain gold ring/band
5. a high-end cellphone
 
B. Next, choose another number from 1 to 5. Now see what you picked:
 
1. moldy bread
2. a used toothpick
3. a bottle of dead cockroaches
4. cotton buds drenched in blood
5. a dirty sock
 
C. Next, pick another number from 1 to 5. Here's what you picked:
 
1. a knapsack
2. a laptop bag
3. a plastic bag
4. a gift-wrapped box
5. a gym bag
 
D. Finally, pick yet another number -- yes, from 1 to 5. I promise this 
is the last time :o)
 
1. a convention
2. election day
3. Thanksgiving
4. a high school reunion
5. a store opening
 
 
Now put the plain gold ring/band (A) and the bottle of dead cockroaches (B) 
in a knapsack (C). Your character discovers the knapsack in the car of the 
incumbent mayor's chief of security on election day (D). Your character 
opens the knapsack and...
 
What's your character's reaction when he/she pulls out the "good" item, 
followed by the "bad" item"? Write it out. Get the emotions out of your 
character. Continue by exploring your character's thoughts -- What are 
his/her assumptions for the presence of those items in the knapsack? How 
does he/she connect the items with the circumstances?
 
Pick the items at random and experiment with your character's reactions. 
You have at least 500 "set ups" for your character at your disposal by 
combining the items in the 4 lists above. 
 
 
Copyright (c) 2004 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
 
Shery created WriteSparks! - a software that generates over 10
*million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks! Lite
for fr*e - http://writesparks.com 

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