Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Exercise in Crafting Characters

    'The room around you disappears, time alters shape, and you are transported by the spell of words on a page. We've all had that marvelous reading experience. And almost always, what makes it happen is intense, even passionate, interest in the fate of a character in that story.'
          - Nancy Kress, from Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint
                                                      (Writer's Digest Books, 2005)
     I bet you can name a character or two from a book in a blink who has made an indelible impression on you. Ready? Go!
     For me, it has always been Jo Marsh and Scarlett O'Hara. Maybe since I read both books in my early teens those characters made a mark on impressionable me. But I suspect it had more to do with the well-rounded characters which each of the authors crafted. More recently, I am in awe of John Green's Hazel and Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars.
     Today, I'm meeting with my writing group to draw from a hat the names of different places around town. Then we'll scatter to these locations and write for a specified amount of time, observing the people, activities, and setting in our assigned spots. I'm wondering about the characters I'll come up with from this activity: what they'll look like, what they're thinking about, who they love? I'm looking forward to meeting them.
     I'll let you know how it turns out.


  1. I love that idea! Can't wait to read your report. :)

  2. Gili Hopkins, Anne (with an 'e') Shirley and Pipi Longstocking do it for me...
    Now going around town and finding others... I LOVE this idea. Can I come too?

  3. What a terrific writing exercise. I'll look forward to hearing how it turns out.

    Anne Shirley and Nancy Drew.

  4. That sounds like a fun writing exercise! Anne of Green Gables always stuck with me.

  5. Wow, sounds like a fun exercise. Can't wait to hear how it goes.

    The character that I have in my head right now is Sam from I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

  6. What a great idea--to simply observe people around a designated area. I'd love to try that. I assume it's especially rewarding when you can share with others afterwards.

  7. Getting lost in a book is one of my very favorite things to do. I immediately thought of Francie in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and Christy Huddleston in "Christy" for starters.

    Sounds like a fun time!

    Kathy M.

  8. I can't wait to hear how your people-watching experiment turns out. I SO need to do that. A character that stays with me is Trudy from Stones from the River. She was the kind of character I wanted to meet so I could ask her questions.


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