Sunday, April 3, 2011
A Writing Exercise: Creating a Character
Here's a writing exercise for you to try:
What or who is your muse? Sit down and brainstorm ideas. Write what comes to you without editing for the next fifteen minutes. What does your muse look like? What do they talk like? Would they even be human?
This is my completed exercise. I've only edited for punctuation and spelling, so you can get an idea of how my brainstorming process works for me. In fifteen minutes I managed to write about 2 pages.
I don’t know exactly when I met Wendy Wench. It seems she’s been with for a very long time in spirit, but I didn’t actually pay attention to her until a few months ago when I heard a shrill irate voice screaming from my desk drawer to be let out. Wendy Wench is a curious woman and one that you should not turn your back on. If you do, she’s liable to holler at you all day and night while taking nips from a silver flask engraved with whales. This leads me to believe that she is from some faraway sea village, but she has never spoken of her home. I do know that she owns a black cat named Ink who has a penchant for fish and tends to steal my pens from my desk drawer, if I leave it open and unattended.
Wendy Wench is a tiny woman, but you can’t miss her loud mouth. She stands about three inches tall, wears long, broomstick skirts and peasant blouses in very dark colors; except for one day a month in which she wears bright pink and I have no idea why. She likes to sleep and when she’s not sleeping she is perching on a book or two next to my laptop, if I have let her out of her drawer or she’s off doing whatever a wench does when left to their own devices. When she’s been gone for a couple of days she always comes back happier and with the oddest ornaments in her hair like bits of aluminum foil and glass washed up on the beach and pop bottle tops.
She smells of earthy things like ginger, lavender, and thyme. And her eyes are the green of the grass and the leaves on the trees right after a storm before the sun comes out. Her hair is sometimes brown and sometimes the color of poppies or eggplant, depending on her mood and what time of year it is. It wears her like a mantle, wild and unkempt and sometimes there are tiny knots that look like the work of the fae. She speaks with an Irish brogue or a British accent or even an American accent at times. I think this is to fool me and keep me guessing. But I have heard her play a mean tin whistle and she is fond of singing traditional Irish lullabies.
She has a foul mouth when angry and is quicker than a wasp to sting you with her words, but praises you if you write well. She steals my silverware. I’ve found on more than one occasion a fork with the tines bent every-which-way, knives creased into quarters, and spoons curled into round O’s all jumbled together into weird sculptures belonging in the modern section of the art museum. She also collects odd bits of string and feathers from crows and jays and other birds that she ties together in bundles and hangs around her neck.
Every finger is adorned with at least one silver ring or more. When she talks her hands glint in the sunlight, blinding me, if she is very excited. She often loses her voice late at night after talking for hours and hours about a Neil Gaiman story she read or a Charles Vess painting she likes. She enjoys stories with selkies and sea monsters and mermaids. And she loves her men. She likes them tall, dark, and redheaded with long hands like musicians. She also is curious about cameras and loves taking pictures, but not having her picture taken. She keeps a collection of negatives that she’s scrounged from people’s garbage cans in her desk drawer. She likes watercolor because it is painting with water. In fact, I think she likes water elementals best. I often hear her talking of missing the sea, though which I one I don’t know, as I have said before I do not know where she came from.
I hope you've enjoyed this exercise. Perhaps, you've gotten a new character to stick in one of your own stories. If not, at least you got some writing time in today and learned a little more about my muse. I know I did.
I'd love to hear about your own muse, if you care to post a short bit of your exercise or email me.
As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!