Develop Character . . . Prompt #4

I’ve been thinking about characters lately. If you are going to participate in NaNoWriMo, how about doing some freewrites now, set the stage for the “real” writing in November. And if you aren’t part of NaNoWriMo . . . today’s prompt will work for you, also. If you have a fictional character you work with, put your character in a setting he or she wouldn’t normally be in. For example, put your conservative character in an improv situation where he/she has to rap. Have your wild character volunteer to help with bingo in an assisted facility.

Today’s prompt:  See what your character does in unusual situations.

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  1. mcullen Post author

    Monica pulls back the lace curtain, squinting past the newly pruned rose bushes, notes the weather. She raises her coat collar high above her ears, pulls on her fur-lined gloves. One more look in the mirror to check if her seams are straight. It wouldn’t do to meet Monsieur Blanchard looking like a two-bit whore.

    She drops her house key in her pocketbook and enters the night.

    I can change my mind. I don’t have to go through with it. But she’s set up an appointment. Say it like it is, she thinks, a rendezvous with Mr. Blanchard. She squares her shoulders and walks with staccato steps to the streetcar. She inserts a nickel and finds a seat. A sailor tries to catch her eye. She notices but doesn’t flirt back. She is laser focused on her next move with Mr. Blanchard.

    The streetcar starts and stops as if having fits down Market Street. Monica disembarks one block from the ferry building. She walks the short distance to an unremarkable squat building, barely noticeable amongst the warehouses.

    Monica knocks three times as instructed. The door opens a crack. “What time is it?” a voice asks.

    As instructed, Monica answers, “3:30” even though it’s 8:10.

    The door opens wider. Monica steps into the dimly lit room. The door is quickly shut, blocking out the wharf noises.

    Monica moves her hand to her throat as if to protect a precious necklace.

    “Sit,” a voice commands.

    The man who answered the door, pulls out a straight back chair. Monica gingerly lowers herself.

    Now she is eye to eye with the man she has only communicated with by leaving messages in odd and dark places. These notes have guided her here, where she is to learn her assignment and then accept or refuse. But she knows refusal is not an option, having come this far, she knows too much. They wouldn’t let her get off easily.

    She shifts her weight and realizes she’s been holding her breath.

    1. Kathy Myers

      This piece is evocative of the noir genre, but less hard-boiled than a Dashiell Hammett. I like the way the scene and the time is set with the characters behavior; “pulling on fur lined gloves” and “inserting a nickel” for streetcar fare. The detail of realizing she’s been holding her breath speaks volumes on the characters state of mind in a very economical way. This is a dynamite beginning of a story that would make me want to read on.

      1. mcullen Post author

        Thank you, Kathy, I appreciate your spot-on observations. Glad to know this piqued your interest!

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