The other day I read a great blog post titled “A Quick Tip for Getting to Know Your Characters and Your Plot,” by author Janice Hardy. In the post Hardy suggests having your character empty her purse. If your protagonist doesn’t carry a purse have them empty their pockets, briefcase, or even their wallet. Since the main character for my current WIP is a teenager the object to be emptied would be a bookbag.
Once everything is laid out on the table Hardy suggests looking at the objects carefully. Of those objects, how many of them play a significant role in your story’s plot? The point of this writing exercise is to become better acquainted with your character, and seeing what they carry around with them on a regular basis is a great way of doing that. Asking why these things are important enough to be toted from place to place may offer some valuable information to your story that you may not have considered before.
Hardy’s idea got me thinking. Because my protagonist is a teen I decided to try and build on this concept even further. What’s the one thing most teens (adults too for that matter) would never leave home without? The answer: A cell phone. That got me thinking even more. What are the things that my protagonist keeps stored on her phone? This could include text messages, photos, video and voice recordings or even personal notes. Which items would cause her to flip out if they were accidentally deleted? What if those items were seen by someone else? How would she react?
Think about the things you carry with you at all times. What do they say about your personality? What do they say about a situation that you may be going through at this particular time in your life? Put that same thought into thinking about the items that are saved on your phone. What could a stranger learn about you?
I found this to be a great writing exercise, and I hope that you will too.
Until next time…