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Writing Wednesday: Finding Your Characters Online

Happy Writing Wednesday! I’ve pulled together some weird and wonderful ideas and topics from around the internet to help give everyone a mid-week writing boost. Whilst these ideas might not work for everyone I hope they might provide a little bit of inspiration and encouragement to practice your skills. I’ve also included some creative exercises I’ve picked throughout my creative writing studies.

So, without further a-do the topic for this week is:

Finding your characters online.

Search engines are essentially a spare hard-drive for our brains, we search for answers everyday, use it to find love and to solve a multitude of arguments. As far as I’m concerned, if we can ask the internet how to overcome our greatest fears it stands to reasons that it might also be useful for finding characters for our novels.

So here’s what to do:

Step 1: Chose four names. This can be your name, your best friends name, someone you hate, someone you love, the name of the attractive person at work that you ghost in case you spontaneously tell them your darkest inner thoughts. Whoever you like really!

Step 2: Once you’ve got your names, give them a google and pick out some interesting portraits from the picture section. Try to avoid celebrities that you might already have preconceived notions about. The less conventional the person the better.

Step 3: Once you’ve chosen the best faces you can find. Think about the person in the photograph. How do you imagine this person thinks? Who are they? Where do they live? What do they do? What do they want? A lot of people imagine the lives of others by people watching when they’re out in public. This is a lazy version, that is easy to do from the comfort of your own home. I have to admit though, the lattes aren’t as good! Once you have a clear idea of them in your mind write a short summary about their personality.

Step 4: Repeat 1-3 as many times as you like with different names and faces then when you’ve got a decent cast start to put them together. Try different scenarios and write how they might interact. This helps to start developing their authentic voices and is good practice for writing dialogue too. You could make one character interview the other. Have one of them get caught robbing the others house. Have one throw a pint over the other in a bar. Flex your creative muscles and see what you can come up with. Writing in this way challenges us to think outside of ourselves and view the world from a new perspective. It also helps us to write more convincingly and challenges you to practice working with new points of view.

I’d love to know how you get on with this exercise! Do you think it helps you to consider characters you might not normally gravitate towards? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!



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