Thursday, November 04, 2010

ABCharacter

One thing about NaNoWriMo is that it doesn't exactly give us weeks and weeks to figure out who our characters are. With that in mind, here's a quick and fun characterization exercise I use in my creative writing workshops that may help you speed up the process.

First, compile an alphabetical list of quirks, traits and/or other aspects of personality (positive or negative) that best describe your character. Try to avoid words that are synonyms of each other. For the tough letters (X and Z) you can use words that contain the letters versus starting with them.

Here's one of my lists:

Arrogant, bewildering, courageous, demanding, exemplary, ferocious, gifted, hot-headed, intelligent, jealous, kind, lonely, mysterious, nitpicky, overbearing, proud, quick, rebellious, sensitive, terrifying, unyielding, volatile, wistful, eXiled, young, priZed

To get more out of the exercise, take each word from your list and describe in one sentence why that particular trait, quirk or other personality aspect applies to your character (bits of backstory are helpful here.) By the time you're finished, you should have a pretty decent character outline.

11 comments:

  1. I like this. I'm thinking it would work for setting as well.

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  2. I love alphabetical lists of anything, so I am all over this exercise. Going to try it for my protagonist today!

    p.s. Not nanoing or anything, just writing every day.

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  3. That's a fun exercise! Also, I have to tell you I laugh every time I see the Unofficial Nag photo. That horse is perfect.

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  4. Now that's a good exercise! I'd have never thought of that.

    But what if I can't come up with 26?

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  5. Neat idea! I'm totally going to do that with my MC. ^_^

    ~TRA

    http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

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  6. Darlene wrote: I'm thinking it would work for setting as well.

    Oh, brilliant spin! I have to try that tonight.

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  7. Charlene wrote: Also, I have to tell you I laugh every time I see the Unofficial Nag photo.

    Lol. That lady is a Tennessee Walker who belongs to a friend, and actually inspired the horse that my protagonist rides in After Midnight. Here's a closer shot of her with my daughter.

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  8. Theo wrote: But what if I can't come up with 26?

    I would try to make a list using just the letters in the character's name, their hometown, or some other keyword from the story.

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  9. Lynn, is that Cherijo's list? :)

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  10. That's an interesting idea! I love how you've got everything planned in your head!

    I tend to brainstorm if I get stuck.

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