Category Archives: Writing exercises

Get Your Characters Some Exercise

I promised I’d post an exercise in creating action and character movement. So here goes.

Step 1: Choose a character from a story or novel you’re working on. If you don’t have an off-the-shelf character, use someone you know, like your mom, your spouse, your neighbor, your co-worker. Don’t worry. They never have to read this.

Step 2: Take your character for a walk. Use a setting from your story or novel, or a place you know, like your neighborhood or the city you live in or a hiking trail you frequent. What does your character see? Have them use at least two of the other senses as well. Tell us what they’re thinking and feeling as they walk.

Step 3: Put a barrier in your character’s way. Describe it. Then tell us what happens next.

Step 4: Now have someone following your character. How does your character realize that someone’s on their trail? What does your character do? What does the follower do?

Step 5: Put another barrier in your character’s way. This time, they have to deal with being followed and figuring out how to deal with the barrier at the same time.

Step 6: Go back to the beginning. Give your character a companion. At each important juncture, they disagree about how to proceed. How does that change the scene?

I just made this exercise up, which means it’s untested. Plus I’ve heard that adult learners never follow instructions. With those things in mind, I’d love your feedback if you end up trying the exercise out. How’d it go? Did you change anything up? If so, what?