Sep 05

Writing Characters

Writing Characters

Words From Context

Recently we found our way into a story by looking at an event from the viewpoint of three different characters (Take Three Characters).This forced us from the start, to look in different ways at what the story was about and also to think carefully about the characters and their personalities and to consider their points of view.


Similarly the viewpoint of anything can change over time, memories can be more or less reliable, rationalization or a desire to minimize responsibility, or to claim more responsibility, can vary the way people remember things (Take Three Days).  People change, they get older and sometimes wiser. They change their minds and learn new things and they may say something different about the same thing at different times. We need to remember this and avoid making our characters static, if our stories take place over a period.


Task 1.

Take your three characters, from the recent exercise (or any three if you were not there for that exercise) and, quickly jotting down for each person the first thing you think of, in each case try to  answer:

If s/he was a bird what would s/he be?

If s/he was a flower what would s/he be?

If s/he was a car what would s/he be?

If s/he was a building what would s/he be?

If s/he as a fruit what would s/he be?


Task 2.

In turn, remind the other members who one of your characters was by reading the original description.


After each description the other members should quickly write down an answer to each of the above questions about that character: If s/he were a bird….?


Compare and discuss the outcomes. How did everyone else’s view of the character match the writer’s?


Before moving on the member should share a reminder of each of their other two characters, their answers to the 5 questions and discuss briefly whether the others agree or not.


If there is more agreement than disagreement about your characters then you have clearly got across how you meant them to be perceived. If there is not, then that is something to take away with you and think about!



Task 3

In pairs: Take a character from someone else’s list and one of your own, so that two of you are writing about the same two people.

Individually: Introduce them to each other in a chance situation.


For example:

They find themselves sitting next to each other in an airport or railway station as their flight/train is delayed and get into conversation.

What would they tell each other in such circumstances? What would they choose to talk about?

Share and discuss responses looking at how similar or different they are, whether they have been kept ‘in character’, whether there was a noticeable difference between the feel for your own and someone else’s character.


Empathy: If your reader gets to know your character well and feels they understand him, or her, they should be able to hazard a pretty good guess at how they would respond in a new situation.



Category: Group Session. Tags:Characterization, Writing Characters

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