Writing Exercise: Character Sheets as Prompts

As promised, a new writing exercise for you all to have fun with! We did this at Write Club this past Tuesday and it went rather well. It is designed to work with 2+ people, so grab a writing friend, pen-pal, or fellow blogger to give it a try. Here’s how it works:

  1. Each person writes a brief character sheet. (Check the link if you’re not sure what a character sheet is.) Include information you feel is most important to understanding the character. You can use a character you’ve already written about, but try to come up with a new one.
  2. Once you’re done with your character sheets, trade them. Read them over so you get a good idea of what this character is all about and get to writing! Feel free to embellish and add details to the character, but do not change anything. You don’t need to include every detail, either.
  3. When you’re done writing, share what you wrote about the character. Ideally, writing about someone else’s character will help you write outside of your normal comfort zone. You also get to hear what someone else thought about your character and what mischief s/he would get into. You might just learn something new about yourself, your writing, or your character!

This does lean more toward prose than poetry. I’m not much of a poet myself, but I don’t see why a poem couldn’t contain the character depicted. It might not be as natural as incorporating the character in prose. Any poets out there want to comment on that?

So you guys have examples to go off of, I’ll post the character sheet and flash fiction I wrote on Tuesday. As a reminder, the flash fiction was based off of someone else’s character sheet, not the one I wrote, so these two pieces will be completely disjoint.

Have you done this exercise or something similar? How well did it work out? How would you feel about doing inter-blog exercises like this one?


 

Character Sheet

Name: Reina
Nickname: Rei
Gender: Female
Age: 28
Sexual orientation: Lesbian
Favorites
Animal: cat
Color: red
Activity: tinkering
Food: sweet potatoes (hates fish)
Drink: red wine
Family
Siblings: none
Father: strict, serious
Mother: strict, gentle
Other: Was very close with a female cousin a few years her senior until that cousin’s death
Physical description
Height: 5’3″
Weight: 140lbs
Hair: Long, brown, frequently in a ponytail
Eyes: hazel
Other: She loves wearing skirts

Reina is headstrong and stubborn. She does things her way or not at all. Highly logical, she dreams of becoming a renowned inventor. Her cousin’s death was very hard on her, especially since she has no other close friends. She hides her sadness behind optimism. She has a cat named Lyza, named after her first love. Her parents wish she would marry a nice young man.

 

Flash Fiction

Based on Holly, a stereotypical “good girl” who had to drop out of college to raise her younger brother when her parents were killed by a drunk driver.

An escort. Not exactly the clean, honest living she wanted, but the money…

Then again, it’s not like she was pretty enough for such a job. She was too thin, her chest too flat, and there was nothing she could do about those freckles. So her mother would say, anyway.

Holly looked at the clock. Her brother would be home soon and she would put on her mask of happiness. What else could she do? Tell him they might be evicted unless she found a better-paying job? Tell him she was thinking about being an escort? That would go over well.

She jumped at the sound of her phone ringing. She pushed the newspaper under some applications and ran for her phone.

“Hello?” she answered.

“Hi Holly, this is Jon from Macy’s.” Jon. Her boss. Could he be calling to give her a raise? Promote her? Give her more hours?

“Yes?” she said when he didn’t continue talking.

“Since the holidays are over, we’re a bit overstaffed…” he paused. Holly’s heart began to race. “You’re the newest, so I will have to let you go.”

Her heart stopped. “Oh,” she managed to say, “okay.”

“Good luck. Let me know if you ever need a reference.”

“Right, sure,” she said before hanging up.

Fired. Nobody else was hiring now, either. She could sell her car, that would let her pay rent for another month, maybe two. But then how would she get to work? Assuming she could find another job. Before they were evicted.

Tears building behind her eyes, Holly retreated into her bedroom. She pulled the newspaper back out and copied down the contact number for the escort position.

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on March 16, 2012, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love it! I’ve never done anything quite like this, but this looks like fun! I’ll have to find someone willing to try it with me…. : )

    I’m not much of a poet either, but a fun poetry activity that I did learn in college is this: everyone writes the first line of a poem then passes their paper to the right. You pass the papers around the room, adding a new line to each paper until your original paper returns to you. Then you write the final line. Surprisingly, the poem that emerged from the exercise is one of my favorites.

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