Friday, October 14th, 2011

Writing Prompt – “Good Characters” / “Bad Situations”

If you’re just jumping on board, you might want to read last week’s prompt where I discussed one method of building characters for your stories.

This week, we’ll use the same method for coming up with some interesting situations to put them in: a bone for your muse, so to speak.

Here’s Your Prompt:

As you did last week, divide a sheet of paper into thirds and label the first third, “Article of Clothing/Weapon/Random Object,” label the second, “Event or Action,” and label the third, “Emotion, Feeling or Mood.”

(If we were in grade school, I’d make you fold the paper into the three sections, and complete each column before moving on to the next. But you can do this anyway you want. However, I caution against writing across the row, because it’s too easy to come up with hackneyed situations, for example: bouquet, a wedding, happiness. Yuk!)

The first column should be filled with words or phrases such as: chain mail armor, dagger, persimmon.

If you’re having trouble coming up with words on the list, try the Random Noun Generator, which lists up to 10 words at a time. (Not all of them are nouns, unfortunately. You may need to push the generate button a few times to get enough words for your lists.) But do try on you own at first, it’s always good practice to think!

Seventh Sanctum has a Random Weapon Generator, but the weapons are fictional. You’ve got to decide what they do.

The second column should list words such as: “the wedding of the century,” “someone sneezed,” “a robbery,” “a car broke down,” etc.

The third column should be filled with emotions, feelings and moods, such as: mad, happy, glad, forlorn. Try to find some nuances among these, instead of sticking with the mundane. If all you can think of are “the usual,” write down the first ten (10) on a different sheet of paper, and then toss it out. Dig deep into your mind.

Article of Clothing/Weapon/Random Object Event or Action Emotion, Feeling or Mood
dagger war hurt
chainmail a cough mistrusting
orange choking offended
pot of coffee went forward in time furious

Now comes the fun part: choose one item from each column (and never more than one item from each row). You’ll use these to write a scene with the character you created last week.

For a true sense of randomness, use a random number generator from Random.com to pick the item from each column.

I suggest, however, that you choose the event or action which will most upset your character. Conflict will make the scene much more dramatic.

A point of note: I used quotes around the phrase “Good Characters” in the title because I mean good in the sense of well crafted, rather than meaning a goody-goody character. Similarly, “bad” in the title means “unfortunate for your character” rather than (necessarily) dire.

So, your (well-crafted) pre-teen gang member might hate to attend that wedding of the century, or worse, be a bridesmaid.

Once you’ve picked from each column, write the scene described with your character.

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