Who is Your Character 3


Mostly I chose this photo because it makes me laugh, but it does work with characters. Doesn’t it?

My 31 30 days of reading to write is an indulgence. And a discipline.

In a class I took many moons ago, I remember reading a book on characters. I don’t remember the book or the author of the book. But I remember one lesson about creating dimensional characters. It began with a simple question:

What is in your character’s purse? Or what is in or on his nightstand?

Does your character always carry a small tube of toothpaste to cover her bulimia? Does she have pepper spray or a small pistol? Does she have pouches of tissues ready to hand to anyone sniffling? Or bottles of Purell? Does she carry a designer bag she can’t afford or a cheap knock off from the corner shop run by her ex-boyfriend?

Maybe your character has stacks of dog-eared books on the paranormal or a few well thumbed soft covered romances? Are there layers of dust on a hand crafted antique or nothing atop a squeaky clean particle board. Is the furniture draped with flowery fabric or a brass lamp? Gold coins? A deck of cards or moldy boxes of Chinese food?

Maybe these details don’t show up on your pages. But if you can answer these questions about your characters, it can help to color how you piece together your story or novel or essay.

She was the kind of woman who palmed mints from hostess stations at chain restaurants.
She was an avid reader of romance novels she tucked inside the pages of MONEY magazine.
He emptied his pockets every night onto his nightstand, and then his five kids picked over for the silver pieces first, giggling before reading.
He had a photo of his wife, yellowed and cracking and her Bible open to the last passage she read.

Try This:
Make a list of of what your character would keep on her nightstand or in her purse. How does it change how you think about your character?

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3 thoughts on “Who is Your Character

  • Anonymous

    My character;
    …the table next to her bed has become a repository of all things, born equally of comfort and shame, that feed her latent curiosity within the security of her room.
    She regards it more of a bed chamber than bed room, and indulges a sip
    from a blue can of a ‘commoners’ brew, while giggling to herself about the fine
    red wine she tweets out.
    From atop her favorite book she moves the key ring with the ‘I heart Cooper’ pendant, and a shiny silver embossment surrounding a blue star, given by a dear friend from Arlington, TX.
    She picks up her latest Sarah Palin compilation and nestles her shoulders into her pillow as if they were her own mother’s arms.
    The dim light out the window conjures a melody in her head of a familiar Johnny Cash tune…familiar at least to the ‘other’ iPod player she keeps in the top
    And as she drifts into her own dusk, she smiles, almost involuntarily, knowing tomorrow she will play her role again, fooling them all with her faux-feminist-wares (as she regards it). Because she is content now, and but for a few
    sacred hours, her true self.