Have you begun writing a story, but got a little stuck? Or perhaps you have some vague idea of a character you wish to create but not sure where to start?
Here’s a list of seven prompts to help you get to know your character, while also developing some new scenes for your story. The first two will work even if you have no character at all (and help you find one!), the others will help you develop those you’ve already created.
1. Five words
Include the following five words in a scene or story: table, cup, clock, bark, egg.
2. Choose an image
Choose an image that represents either a setting or a character in your story. If you need inspiration, you could search Pinterest, or a copyright free image service such as Unsplash or Pixabay:
a) Ask 10 questions about the image, particularly ones you cannot know the answer to simply by looking at the image. Be curious. Questions starting with who, what, when, where, why and how are useful ones to ask.
b) Answer these questions using your imagination and what you know of your character.
c) Write a scene based on your newly acquired ‘information’.
d) Reflect. What do you now know about your character that you didn’t know before?
3. What would your character do? Scenario 1
Your character’s presence has been requested (demanded?) at a family gathering. At this gathering there will be someone your character would love to see, but there will also be someone they want to avoid.
4. What would your character do? Scenario 2
Your character is traveling somewhere when there is an accident. What was your character’s destination? How were they traveling? Are they (or someone else) hurt, and if so, how badly? How does this impact the original plan?
5. Mentors and teachers
Who has been a mentor or teacher to your character? This could be an official mentor or community elder, but it may simply be someone they look up to, or have learnt something from—a skill, a talent, a life lesson, how to survive. This mentor may have been a positive or negative influence.
Write a scene that shows the influence of the mentor on your character.
6. Favourite animal
What is your character’s favourite animal? Write a scene which includes that animal. The animal could become the focus of the scene, be in the background, or simply mentioned in the passing.
7. Risk a Life
Who would your character risk their life for? Write a scene in which your character does exactly that—risks their life (willingly or unwillingly) for someone else.
Over to You
Which prompts will you experiment with first?
And remember, the hardest part about writing is often starting in the first place.