Taking a character for a walk
Begin by inventing ten or twelve separate characters, all different from each other. For each one, choose five adjectives that will bring that character back into your mind. For example:
- Vagrant, stubborn, anti-social, dirty and claustrophobic
- Elegant, self-centred, cruel, secretive and rich
- Industrious, principled, obsessive, judgmental and tired
Write each group of adjectives on a separate slip of paper and put all the slips into an envelope.
When you are ready for your walk, pull out one of the slips at random and think yourself into the mind of that character. Then set out on the walk, seeing everything through his or her eyes. When you get back, stay in character and write a description of your walk, commenting on what you noticed and your general impressions of the neighbourhood.
Then pick another slip, go on the same walk as a different character and write a second description of what you noticed and how you felt about it.
Instead of going on a walk, you could pick your characters as above and visit a property website to go on a virtual tour of one of the houses. Choose a house with furniture—preferably a big house—and take the virtual tour. Then write about what you saw and how you felt.
When you have finished your real or virtual walks and written the descriptions of what you encountered, compare the two versions. Did your characters notice different things? Or notice the same things but describe them in different ways? Do those differences feel laboured and artificial, or do they give you a real sense of the people who wrote them? If you share your writing with friends, you could try giving them the two descriptions, without explaining how they were produced. Does their impression of the two writers tally with how you imagined them?Find out more
Freedom in Fabrication
The Japanese writer Tanizaki complained that he could not read his contemporaries. Every time he picked up a…Find out more
One way to think about writing is as a tool of curiosity. A way of finding out about…Find out more
Writing in a Spoken Voice
If you find the point of view in your stories tends to wander around the place (sometimes very…Find out more
Exploring different third person points of view
Write part of a story in the form of a scene from a play, beginning with a description…Find out more
Subjective third person narrative
When I was a child, like most young readers I wanted to identify with the characters in books….Find out more
Finding your Antagonistic Antagonist
Thrillers need to be page-turners with cracking plots, plenty of twists and great characters (particularly in psychological thrillers)….Find out more
Creating an Antagonistic Antagonist
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s third law of motion could equally apply…Find out more
Don’t talk down to younger readers
Don’t think that all children want to hear about is fluffy bunnies, naughty elves and lessons to be…Find out more
Developing a character
Imagine that there is a young character in your mind, waiting to step forward and tell you their…Find out more