You are trapped in a burning building. What do you do?
Um, personally…get the hell out. Ta da! End of story. Probably not going to sell a lot of copies, that one.
Oversimplified, yes, but hopefully you get the point. Prompts don’t work for me because they leave out the most integral ingredient of story: character. Now let’s look at the prompt in another way:
Rachel Ray is trapped in a burning building…what does she do? (Toast marshmallows?)
Bear Grylls is trapped in a burning building…what does he do? (Put out the fire with his own urine?)
Joan Rivers is trapped in a burning building…what does she do? (Melt like the Wicked Witch of the West?)
Cesar Milan is trapped in a burning building…what does he do? (Use a super secret, super sonic dog whistle to summon a band of rescue dogs?)
Each one of these public personalities would act in a unique and individual way. And so should your character. There are lots of writing tips to get in touch with your character, and they are all equally good. In the end, though, you must know more about your character’s quirks and ticks than you do about simply their hair or eye color, height or weight. You should even know more than what they would do if they were trapped in a burning building.
So, for this week’s writing prompt, I am going to present you with some questions that you should be able to answer about your Main Character. If you can’t answer them, then take some time over the next week and reflect on how you think this person might react/answer to the situations presented below.
I WELCOME YOUR FEEDBACK FROM THIS EXERCISE. IF YOU ARE SO INCLINED, SEND A PARAGRAPH OR TWO TO: FictionFlurry@hotmail.com WITH WHAT YOU COME UP WITH. SOME SUBMISSIONS WILL BE FEATURED IN FUTURE POSTS (with permission).
And please be sure to return to the blog on Wednesday, 6/23/10, when I will share what MY Main Character has to say about all this.
Would your Main Character commit perjury? For a friend? A family member?
How does your MC react when people laugh at him/her?
Would your MC attend a public execution? Does he/she believe in capital punishment?
Would your MC donate their body (after death) to science?
Would your MC shave their head? How about for $100? $1,000? $10,000?
Would your MC rather have power or knowledge? Security or love?
What is your MC compulsive about? Does he/she struggle to break bad habits?
As always, Happy Writing!
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