If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. ~Tennessee Williams
Your reader may not find you, your mother, or your friend as interesting as you do. Even if you have led an incredible life, create a character who has a separate identity. The trick is to use your life to enhance your character, not to tell your life story.
How do we write what we know without writing about ourselves?
We need to separate our experiences from our emotions, our hopes, and our dreams. Experiences can be limiting – especially if we haven’t really done much in our lives.
The other three, however, are our greatest gifts as writers. We need to draw on these. We all know how it feels to be terrified, sad, elated, disappointed, ecstatic. We all have dreams. We all make wishes. Good writing means drawing on this vast resource and using it to breathe life into our characters.
Exercise: Create a character, starting with yourself.
Fill in the blanks:
I prefer talking to my mother / my father because ______________________
My favourite scent is ___________________________________________
My favourite song is ____________________________________________
My favourite meal is: ____________________________________________
My favourite car is: ______________________________________________
If I won the lottery, I would ________________________________________
I am most afraid of ______________________________________________
I want to _________________________________________ before the end of the year.
I don’t want to _____________________________________ any more.
Imagine that you are 20 years older than you are now. Imagine yourself as a member of the opposite sex. Give yourself a name. This character has been told that he/she is terminally ill. Now write the opening scene of a novel, using your dreams, loves, fears, featuring this character.
© Amanda Patterson
If you enjoyed this article, read
- Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language
- Seven Essential Things to Remember about Very Important Characters
- Wherever I Lay My Hat – How Setting Affects Your Characters
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