Tag Archives: character development

Wednesday Writing Exercise: Achieving the Impossible

What can we say? We like to aim big.WednesdayWritingExercise_carousel_icon

Giving your main character a goal is an essential way to drive plot. Their motivations can change over the course of the novel, but they should always be there. Katniss wants to protect her sister, and then she wants to survive. Pip wants Estella to love him, and therefore to become a gentleman. Later, realising the error of his ways, the thing he wants most dearly is Joe’s forgiveness. These desires propel the characters into action, and action propels the novel.

This week on our Edit Your Novel course, the students are talking about middles. Middles are hard bits, aren’t they? They can be too saggy or too short, they can lose direction or a sense of imperative. With that in mind, our first writing exercise is for those of you who might be stuck in the middle of a project.

If you’ve got a work-in-progress on the go

Spend some time thinking about each of your characters and what they’re trying to achieve at this point in your novel. What do they want? How do they plan to get it? Is it out of their reach, and will that stop them trying? And if it isn’t out of their reach, how can you take it away from them?

And if you aren’t working on something at the moment

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500 words on this chap please. Where is he going? Where has he come from?

Enjoy this? Join us each Wednesday for new creative writing exercises and prompts. You could also check out our QuickFic competition each Friday – write a 250 word story on our chosen writing prompt for the chance to win a stack of books!

 

Wednesday Writing Exercise: Only Children Weep

WednesdayWritingExercise_carousel_iconYesterday, the news broke that William Heinemann are to publish Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set A Watchman, over fifty years after the publication of To Kill A Mockingbird.

The novel follows a grown-up Scout as she returns to Maycomb, and in a statement, Lee explains that she actually wrote this book first. On reading it, her editors persuaded her to explore the possibility of a young Scout as narrator, and To Kill A Mockingbird was born.

With that in mind, we have a couple of exercises for you.

 

If you have a work-in-progress

Take the main character and write 500 words from their POV at an entirely different age.

So if you’ve a child narrator, write about them as an adult – what do they think when they look back on the events of your novel? How has it changed them, and where are they now?

And if you’re writing an adult main character, take them back to childhood. What is their life like; how do they see the world? Where do they imagine they’ll be in twenty years time?

If you don’t have a manuscript on the go

Find your favourite novel and choose a key character. Write 500 words from their POV twenty years earlier than the events of the novel or twenty years later.

Where are they now? What are they like? When they look back or forward, what do they see?

 

On completing this exercise, what do you learn about your character and their story? Has it made you realise that certain events or characters are more or less significant than you originally thought?

Check back each Wednesday for more creative writing exercises. And for a writing prompt with a prize, have you played QuickFic of a Friday? Do – we’d love to see you.