What does your character want? What gets in the way? Prompt #133

We’ve been working on character development on The Write Spot Blog. Your character could be fictional, based on a real person or someone in your memoir.

Kurt Vonnegut says to “make your character want something.” There are several ways to go about this.

Have your character do something unexpected . . . something that surprises everyone and weave in a problem.

You can put your conservative character in an improv situation where he/she has to rap or act in a scene.

Your male character might find himself on stage, learning how to hula or belly dance.

Your female character might find herself in a lumberjack contest.

Have your wild character volunteer to help with bingo in an assisted facility.

Have your character do something unusual.

Remember these are freewrites, where you write freely for 12 to 15 minutes. This doesn’t mean you have to use these character vignettes in your novel, essay or memoir. Have fun playing around with characters.

Have fun making your character uncomfortable, make him or her squirm.  Worms on a fishing pole come to mind.

Now, here’s how to really get into the heart of your character:

Moose.1What does your character want? What gets in the way?

For prompts on character development, take a look at:

Character development, discovering characters, prompt #132

Flesh out your character, prompt #131

Other character’s point of view, prompt #109

Grow your characters, prompt #48

You can also type “character” in the search box on the Write Spot Blog for posts about character.

Photo by Breana Marie
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  1. Pingback: “The key to a good essay is conflict, and . . . Victoria Zackheim |

  2. Jennie Butler

    by Jennie Frost Butler

    A surprising fragrance woke me in the wee hours of the morning. Pies baking at 3 am? I threw back the covers and tiptoed to the door. Yep, must be Granny, because the downstairs hall light was on. But she hadn’t done any baking for years—not since senility began to set in.
    I crept down the stairs and peeked into the kitchen. Sure enough, mixing bowls and pie pans cluttered the counters, and there was flour on every surface. Granny was just pulling a pan from the oven. Oddly, it held thick, empty, cup-shaped crusts. Similar ones were already cooling on a rack.
    As I watched, Granny opened her robe and stuffed a cooled one into each cup of the tattered old bra she was wearing. Hearing my gasp, she jerked the robe closed, then turned towards me, blushing.
    “I, I have to get ready for my date,” she stammered, “and, uh, I can’t find my Peter Pan bra™ anywhere.”
    I bit my lip to keep from laughing, as I recalled her tales of teen-aged embarrassment at being so flat-chested. All around her, she’d said, other girls’ bosoms were blossoming, and boys’ eyes were mostly on them. So she’d briefly resorted to a bra that was basically a fabric-covered piece of foam rubber.
    Granny never did fill out much, but my late Gramps always knew he’d lucked out. “Don’t know which I prize more,” he’d tease, “your pretty face or your tasty pie crusts.”
    “Oh,” Granny said, sheepishly, when I mentioned Gramps. Brought back to the present, momentarily, she removed her flour “falsies” and tossed them into the trash. “I guess we could make apricot tarts, or apple strudel with the rest of them,” she muttered. But then, confusion setting in again, she asked, “Uh, could you call that young feller and cancel our date?”
    “Yes,” I answered, a bit sadly. “I’ll just tell him you’re a widow who’s still mourning her loss.”

    1. mcullen Post author

      Oh, Jennie, what a delightful, poignant story. I love how it unfolded. Love these endearing characters. Absolutely delightful! Touching and tasty! Thank you for sharing.

      1. Jennie Butler

        by Jennie Frost Butler

        Just outside a dark alley, the faded scrap of denim flapped tiredly against a beat-up utility pole, before being scooped up by an errant breeze and deposited on a small patch of brown grass.
        A smutty calico kitten, following in its wake, pounced as excitedly as if upon butterfly or bird. The cat itself trailed a fraying gray string, apparently meant as a leash. There were traces of blood on its once-white paws.
        A pale, thin, dirt-smudged boy, in too-large, faded denim jacket, crawled painfully into view.
        “Ma, my mom, she…he..they..” he whimpered into his torn and bloodied sleeve, reaching blindly for kitty’s leash, before slumping to the ground, eyes closed.
        Another breeze picked up the faded scrap of denim, and the kitten went scampering after it, without a backward glance. With the blood on its paws almost dry, and the string unraveling, it, too, would soon be free from any kind of bondage.

        1. mcullen Post author

          Wow, Jennie. Threadbare is mysterious and edgy! Strong adjectives bring good visual images and the single line of dialogue = perfection!

          1. Jennie Butler

            Oooh, what a great response to “Threadbare” Thx, Marlene.

  3. Jennie Butler

    Thanks for your kind words about my previous post, Marlene. Above is another character(s) one that just leaped out of that alley and into my mind. Best, Jennie

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