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Writers Exercise #1: Character Creation
When it comes to breaking out into the world of writing, your best source of inspiration and skill gathering is to start with Writers Exercises. So if you're seeking to hone your skills, get past some writers block or you're just looking for something interesting to do, read on!
This is the first of many writers exercises to come, and I call it -
Writers Exercise #1: Character Creation.
The importance of characters
Whether you are dreaming of a fictional adventure or something more grounded, you'll always need characters. Even if the only character ends up being you, being the narrator, it will still do you a world of good to know how to create characters easily and effortlessly.
This exercise is obviously going to be the best for fictional novels or stories, because it will help you learn to think outside of your comfort zone and stretch your imagination. This is a crucial skill if you are to be able to follow your inspirational flow when it hits, otherwise you might get stopped up trying to think about creating characters along the way. Which just won't do. When you are writing, you want to make it easy to overcome hurdles that crop up. It's okay if you knock the hurdle down along the way, as long as you can keep going. Then you can pick up the bar on the way back and give it a bigger leap as it truly needs.
Character creation is also a vital skill because without characters, you'll have a hard time telling your story. The characters in a story are who your reader are going to connect with, and for that matter, they are who you (the author) are going to connect with as you write. Without a well developed main character (or two) and plenty of minor characters, your going to find your story floating down the white waters without a raft.
So in order to help you become a better writer and to help you gain skills in character creation, I'm going to give you two very awesome exercises that will challenge you and help you grow as a writer.
Create a Hero/Heroine
Okay, for this exercise, I want you to start from scratch. You can be literal and use a pencil to scratch out your character on paper, or you can go digital with the times and carve your character from your keys. Either way, you only need a writing medium and your imagination for this exercise.
Now, the first thing I want you to do, is close your eyes and take several deep and controlled breaths. Calm and center yourself, and then ask the universe to provide you with your hero or heroine. Don't worry about what the story will be to go along with them, and don't worry about details at this point. Just keep your eyes closed, your thoughts focused and your mind open to what the muses might offer you now.
What do you see? A boy? A man? A girl?
Are they small, fat, short, tall, gangly, muscle bound, malnourished?
Do they look happy, sad, angry or afraid?
What color is his or her eyes? Are their lips thin or plush? Do they have any visible scars, birthmarks or injuries? What color is their hair and what style is the cut?
Take the time to really dwell on any visions or intuitions that come and show you your hero or heroine. Don't rush this process, but don't force yourself to focus longer then it feels right.
Once you've discovered your character, ask them what their name is. This might seem silly, but it really isn't. This character who has found you, will have their own name and you only have to ask and allow the name to come to you.
Once you have their name and a picture in your head of what they look like, then you can get down to the nitty gritty and find out all about them. This is the fun part, because I want you to picture this character as if they are a real person and you are interviewing them about their life right now. Ask them questions like:
- Where did you grow up?
- How was your childhood?
- What is your favorite color?
- What do you want more than anything else in the world?
- Whats your favorite book and movie?
- Who are your parents?
- Who do you live with?
- Where are you going?
- What do you like most about yourself?
- What bothers you most about people?
- Do you like animals?
- What do you prefer - cats or dogs?
- Do you speak any other languages?
- Do you have a favorite flavor of ice cream?
- What are three things you love about yourself?
- What are three things you most dislike about yourself?
Continue with the interview until you feel comfortable stopping, or when you don't feel there are any more answers coming. You'll know when it's time.
Once you've got your interview done, take the information and put it all together into a short story about your Hero or Heroine. Again, don't worry about what story they are going to be in, just go with the natural flow of things. If a story idea hits you in the middle of it all, write down the idea on a separate note pad.
This is probably one of my favorite exercises, and probably one of the most challenging you'll ever come across when it comes to character creation. The instructions are really straight forward, so don't be fooled by them. At the same time, don't be discouraged if you run into any creative blocks towards the end.
So, what I want you to do, is create 50 Characters. In order to save some time and confusion, I'm going to give you an example of what your created characters should be like.
1. Name: Betsy Carbeanor
Weight: 105 lbs
Hair Color: Red
Hair Style: Pony Tail
Wears: Jeans & Tank Tops
Lives in: Seattle, Washington
Hometown: Everett, Washington
Job: File Clerk at Court House
Dislikes: Horror Movies Needs: A New Shower Curtain
Biggest Vice: Ice Cream
Weakness: Too Trusting
Others would describe as: a very bubbly personality, always willing to help
One Childhood Memory: Her dad bought her a balloon at a fair, and it flew away into the sky
Deepest Desire: To become a great novel writer
Biggest Secret: Closet Pot Smoker
2. Name: Dan Stanford
Weight: 215 lbs
Hair Color: Brown
Hair Style: Crew Cut
Uses: Hear Aide
Skin: Olive Color
Wears: Dickies and a button up shirt
Lives in: Edmonds, Washington
Hometown: Juno, Alaska
Job: Nursing Assistant
Likes: Monster Trucks
Needs: A Better Job
Biggest Vice: Cigarettes
Others would describe as: Quiet
One childhood Memory: His dad left him and his brother on the side of the road for an hour
Deepest Desire: To have his own successful construction business
Biggest Secret: Sometimes he still wets the bed at night
3. Name: Jessy Cavour
Weight: 202 lbs
Hair Color: Black
Hair Style: Down to neck
Uses: Contact lenses
Eyes: Steal grey
Skin: pale white
Wears: truckers hat and sweat pants
Lives in: Boise, Idaho
Hometown: Boise, Idaho
Likes: to be shirtless
Dislikes: 9 to 5 jobs
Needs: Lower back surgery
Biggest Vice: Drinking
Others would describe as: Late all the time
One childhood Memory: When he was 5, he got a puppy for christmas.
Deepest Desire: To be reunited with his long lost older sister who was adopted
Biggest Secret: Likes to wear women's underwear
4. Name: Joanna Liclor
Weight: 161 lbs
Hair Color: Gray and brown
Hair Style: Short and curly
Skin: tan and wrinkly with freckles
Wears: Lots of lace and silk
Lives in: Forks, Washington
Hometown: Walla Walla, Washington
Job: Store Demonstrator
Likes: Sugar Coated Pineapple
Needs: a Companion
Biggest Vice: Junk Food
Strength: Years of experience
Others would describe as: Sincere and a bit eccentric
One childhood Memory: When she was 15, she met the love of her life at a cafe
Deepest Desire: To not die alone
Biggest Secret: Has $100,000 in a safe that is buried in her garden
5. Name: Henry Hobson
Weight: 150 lbs
Hair Color: Brown
Hair Style: Shagy
Uses: Anxiety Medication
Wears: Dress pants and vest-sweaters
Lives in: South Park, Colorado
Hometown: Ephrata, Washington
Needs: More friends
Biggest Vice: Keeps to himself to much
Strength: Extremely smart
Weakness: Social anxiety
Others would describe as: Keeps to himself mostly, bit of a nerd
One childhood Memory: In 4th grade the school bully stuffed him in his locker
Deepest Desire: To have one friend who truly understands him
Biggest Secret: Thinks he might be gay
When you start to create these characters, don't try to dwell to much on each bit of info. Just go with what first comes into your mind and follow the flow. This will make the task less daunting and will help bring out your inner creativity. Also, don't worry to much if several of your characters have the same traits as other characters. Lots of people have things in common and your characters will to. So long as you aren't making all characters the same, there is nothing wrong with similarities.