Tag Archive | Stories

February Writing Prompts: Creating Characters

q-writerswriteCreating characters for stories is never an easy thing to do. It’s not easy to just come up with a character off the top of your head and slap a name on him or her and call him or her ready to go. Creating characters are much more complex than that. Essentially, writers are creating real living, breathing, and well rounded creatures, just like human beings, and breathe life into their characters. They come with full backgrounds, families, personalities, looks, likes, dislikes, and so on just as real people, such as you and I, do. In order to create believable, honest, and real characters for your stories, you have to practice at building people out of nothing. You can pull ideas on characters from everywhere around you: people you know, people you see walk passed you, yourself, and every corner of this Earth, as well as from your imagination.

Let these writing prompts for this month help you gather ideas for the characters you wish to create and write about. Get to know these characters as if you were meeting someone new for the first time. Know your characters as well as you know yourself, your family, and your friends. Characters are just strangers that come into your life and you, as a reader and as a writer, get to know them better than you know anyone else on this Earth.

Here are the writing prompts on creating characters for the month of February:

  • Write a story/scene/poem/etc. in which the main character is based on yourself, but when you’re 55-70 years old. How have you changed? What is your personality and demeanor like, as opposed to now? Have you accomplished the things that you wanted to? What do you look like? Where do you live? Who are the people in your life?
  • Write about someone who hides his or her, physical or emotional, pain in the work they do. Does someone notice and try to help them with getting rid of the cause of the pain?
  • Write about a main character discovering his or her doppelgänger. How would your character react? What is the doppelganger like personality, physically, etc?
  • What emotions motivate your character’s journey? Show us without saying the emotion. Have someone read it when your done and see if that person can distinguish which emotion motivates your character.
  • How did your character overcome their obstacles and set backs in the story?
  • What would your character say, or how would your character react, if his or her dark secrets were aired for all to know? Show us in a scene or two, or simply write out a summary.
  • Would you consider your character a threat to others? Write a summary or brainstorm of how your character is a threat, and how your character is not a threat.
  • What do you think your character’s breaking point is? How would you show that in a scene?

Get to Know Your Characters:     

(www.writingforward.com)

Background and Family

  • Unearth your character’s roots. What is the character’s ancestry or cultural background? How does ancestry shape your character? Is the character at odds with family traditions?
  • Write a series of short paragraphical biographies of each of the character’s closest family members: spouse, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, close friends, etc.
  • Write a monologue in which your character summarizes his or her life story; be sure to write it in the character’s voice.

Motivations and Goals

  • What motivates your character? Money? Love? Truth? Power? Justice?
  • What does your character want more than anything else in the world? What is he or she searching for?
  • What other characters or events are interfering with your character’s goals? What obstacles are in the way?

Flaws and Fears

  • What is your character’s single greatest fear? How did your character acquire his or her fears?
  • What are your character’s flaws and weaknesses?
  • How does the character’s fears and flaws prevent them from reaching their goals?

Appearance

  • What does your character look like? Make a list and include the following: hair, eyes, height, weight, build, etc.
  • Now choose one aspect of the character’s appearance, a detail (bitten nails, frizzy hair, a scar) and elaborate on it.
  • Write a short scene in which your character is looking in the mirror or write a short scene in which another character first sees your character.

Personality

  • How does your character feel on the inside? What kind of person is your character and what does the character’s internal landscape look like?
  • We don’t always present ourselves to others in a way that accurately reflects how we feel inside. We might be shy or insecure but come across as stuck-up and aloof. How do others perceive your character?
  • Write a scene with dialogue that reveals your character’s external and internal personalities. Good settings for this dialogue would be an interview, appointment with a therapist, or a conversation with a romantic interest or close friend. Write the scene in third person so you can get inside your character’s head as well as the other character’s head; this will allow you explore how your character feels and how he or she is perceived.

Enjoy these writing prompts. May they bring you insight and understanding into your own characters. Write on, my fellow writers and readers.

-Jessica.

 

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Review of the 2003 Film Big Fish—Something a little different from the usual

big-fish-french-movie-poster-2003Big Fish, Small Pond

    The 2003 film Big Fish starring Billy Crudup and Albert Finney follows the lives of the Bloom family. Will Bloom has always been told wondrous tall tales by his father Edward about his life. During Will’s wedding reception, his father tells the guests the enthralling story of how Will shot out of his mother like a slippery missile and how on that day Edward almost lost his wedding ring to an overgrown fish. This is the last straw for Will, who cannot take another one of his fabricated stories -stories that Will has heard his entire life. Outside, he confronts his father. This is the last night that Will speaks to his father for over three years. It isn’t until Will’s mother Sandra calls him to inform him that Edward is very sick and his days on Earth are numbered. Seeing this as his last chance to get to know his father, Will and his pregnant wife Josephine return to Will’s hometown of Ashton.

Despite the fact that Will and Edward have been estranged for years, Will makes an attempt to have a relationship with his ailing father to try once and for all to get Edward to tell the truth about his life without hiding behind the fable tales.

Edward, bedridden and fading, recounts the memories of his life to Will and Josephine. He tells them mystifying stories: Carl, the giant who became his friend and joined the circus; Amos Calloway, who he worked for at the Circus and also happened to be a werewolf; Jenny, a young girl from Spectre that had a crush on him; the singing Siamese twins Ping and Jing, who Edward helped during the Korean War to get to American entertainment industry. Will believes his father has lied to him all of his life about who he is, where he has been, the things that he has seen and stories he has told. Throughout the film, Will tries to get his father to tell him the truth of who he is -”the good, the bad, everything” (Big Fish). His father replies, “I have been nothing but myself since the day I was born. And if you can’t see that, it’s your failing, not mine” (Big Fish). As his father gets weaker, Will thinks he will never get to know his father for who he truly is.

Sandra, Will’s mother, shows Will the telegram she got when Edward was in the Korean War telling her that Edward was missing in action and presumably dead after Will scoffs off his father’s story about Ping and Jing during the war. Will is shocked and asks, “that really happened?” (Big Fish). Sandra replies, “Not everything your father says is a complete fabrication” (Big Fish). At this moment wheels begin to turn in Will’s mind now that he knows that there is some truth to his father’s stories.

The turning point in Will and Edward’s relationship is when Edward has a stroke and is hospitalized. There at the hospital Will asks the doctor who delivered him to recount the story of his birth. The doctor retells him and states that it was a simple normal birth. Though it is never truly said in the film, Will finally sees the beauty in his father’s stories. The way Edward told stories made it memorable, vivid, and turned ordinary things into extraordinary tales. The truth has always been important to Edward. Will finally understands his father and sees the beauty and truth in Edward’s method of truth telling through storytelling.

When his father finally passes away, Will meets the characters from Edward’s fantastic stories at his funeral. Will sees that all the people in the stories are real, yet not the fantastically magical people that he was told about. Carl isn’t a giant, but he is tall. Amos Calloway is hairy and short, but most definitely not a werewolf. Jenny is older now. And the singing Siamese twins Ping and Jing are not Siamese twins, but they are identical.

When Will’s son is born, he passes on his father’s stories and has developed the love of telling truths in the form of storytelling. Edward had always wanted to be the big fish in a small pond. He understood that each one of us as a story to tell and we can tell it anyway we want because when we are gone all we have is our stories. Our stories and the truth in our stories will be passed on from one generation to the next. In this way, we become immortal.

The Art of Characters

The Art of Characters

F. Scott Fitzgerald got it right when he spoke these words. Writers are many people in one body. To develop, create, craft, mold, and imagine characters up from bits and pieces of our daily encounters with people, shreds of ourselves, things we see everyday, and build them from the ground up in our imagination as people. People of whom become as real to us as flesh and blood. Friends, enemies, children, etc. We all have deep roots with our characters. In a way, it’s like childbirth; we go through the mental “pain” of giving them life, so that they can entertain our reads with their journeys and life stories. We become attached to them and we know them better than anyone else in this world. They essentially become a part of his, a part of our own personal history. We see through their eyes the world, their thoughts, their joy, their pain, their fear, everything. The real challenge is finding ways to make these characters relateable and telling their stories well enough to paint vivid pictures in our readers’ minds. That is the challenge every writer, beginner or master, has to become the victor at.

Genre Choice

You ever wonder why you chose to write in the genre or form that you write in now? I have. I’ve been wondering lately why I write young adult fiction and new adult fiction with elements of suspense, mystery, and horror. I’ve taken some practice in trying to write other forms of genres that are more realistic, some historical, and others about regular “people”. The stories turned out believable, and well written, but they just didn’t have that same feel or emotion I got when I wrote YA or new adult fiction with those other elements.

Perhaps it’s because I write only what interests me when I pick up an author’s book to read it. I prefer books that grab hold of me and pull me in until the book is done. The kinds of books I write now are the kinds of books I read as a kid and still read to this day.

Maybe I’ll never understand why I truly prefer to write in this genre and form. Do any of you guys know why you write in the form and genre that you do? I’d love to hear your insight on the matter.