- Books, Literature, and Writing
Creative Writing Prompts: Characterizations and Family
The Importance of Your Characters
Are you stuck for a story?
As any good creative writer knows, one of the best sources of creative energy comes from your characters. This is true for both fiction and creative nonfiction.
A good example of this is James Thurber's "My World- And Welcome to It." This popular book of essays about Thurber's friends and family was well loved by people all over. It was adapted to become a popular TV sitcom that starred William Windom. With tales like "The Night the Bed Fell on Father," it is still a classic to this day.
How do you find the character that will hand you the story?
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There are many ways to get Ideas for characters. The first one that I am going to talk about is a form of brainstorming. I call it the listing technique.
First, make a list of the names of people that you know well. List friends, family, coworkers, people that you know from church or other places that you frequent. Leave several spaces between each name.
When your list is long enough (at least ten), go back through it and use the empty spaces to list the characteristics of each person that you find the most memorable. Write down their most striking physical characteristics, any nervous tics, any eccentricities, or any outstanding events that you associate with that person.
Finally, go through your list and choose one person. Write out that person's story. Feel free to embellish it a little-or a lot. If it's fiction, you can choose whether or not to get carried away. If nonfiction, you need to mine that character for the most creative story that your telling of it will allow.
This method should help you through your dry spell, but if it doesn't there are other ways to get your juices flowing.
The Story Behind the Stranger
You may have heard of this game before. It is a favorite among storytellers.
Go to a public place. A mall or a restaurant is good; it needs to be a place where there are lots of people, and where you can hang out for a while. Bring a pad and pen, a laptop, or some other means of recording your impressions.
Watch the people that walk past you. Observe the way they walk, the way they are dressed, and what they are doing. Record your impressions of their mood and your first impressions of their character. When yo feel confident enough, make up the story of that person's life. Is the girl in the black dress a spy? Is the redheaded nerd with the big eyeglasses the star of the next Matrix movie? Or is he living the life? Is the little kid sucking his thumb the next king of some faraway land?
It's up to you to make a snippet of a story up about each person that you focus on from your day in the mall (or wherever). Make sure that you record these impressions. Then choose a few to write about now and save the rest for a slow day later. This is a great way to get a story going, but even if it doesn't get you flowing right away, it will give you a stable of people that are just waiting for you to give them a life of their own.
Hypnosis to Increase Your Creativity
The Pictures Prompt
A great many of us save pictures as a way to record the events of our lives. If you are stuck for a story, get your photo album out. Go through the pictures slowly. Savor the memories of the events attached to the pictures. Then get your writing instrument out and tell the story to the world.
If you don't have any pictures, then look through a magazine. Choose a picture that speaks to you and make something up about it.
Your picture doesn' t have to be about a person, either. Many famous characters were created using animals or toys. Consider, for example, Miss Piggy, Thomas the Train, or the characters in the movie Madagascar. You can start with the photos that I've posted here.
This should get you writing. I've heard many a writer say that they just create their characters and follow them around.I hope you enjoy your new friends!