INSPIRATIONS Starters for Ten Week 3

Welcome to the practically new Starters for Ten  from K. M. Lockwood. In the third of eight weekly instalments, the spotlight is on character . . .

I'm using 'character ' to mean any being you create stories about. Indeed, I might argue it's the characters who create the stories. Whatever your take on that, feel free to use any character you know well; from your Work-in-Progess, favourite novels, biography, history, TV, film . . .

★ Rules (made to be broken, or bent a bit) 

  • Use a timer.
  • Write without stopping.
  • Don't worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar. 
  • Use whatever metaphors, similes or other verbal flourishes you fancy. Or not.
  • Finish when the time's up.
  • Don't edit. 
  • ENJOY!
Photo by Rene Bernal on Unsplash

 ★ Prompts for people and other beings

1. List questions your character would love to ask (including the ones they daren't) for ten minutes. Nothing is too rude, wacky, boring or wild.

2a List things your character loves that everyone else doesn't for five minutes.

2b List things everyone else loves which your character doesn't for five minutes.
If you have time left, try other characters.

3. 'I would never . . .'
List things your character would never say or do (they believe). Double space your list.
Add another character who contrasts with first if you have time.

4. Look at the I would never list.
 For ten minutes, under each denial, write what could force/persuade them to do it. Try to vary the threat/ promise and make it personal.

5a Only a mother could love that . . .
Think of a ' baddie'. Profile their bad points/behaviour for five minutes from the POV of a 'goodie'. Can be any combination:
Cinderella on The Big Bad Wolf,
Robin Hood on the witch in Hansel & Gretel,
Aragorn on the Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Make up things if you need to but be specific.

5b Now imagine someone who loves/sympathises with /admires them. Write their report for the remaining five minutes.

6. Outside Observation  - a longer session
Go to a place where you can watch a number of people easily (if that's not accessible for you, try documentary films such as those on BFI or Yorkshire Film Archive).
Observe for ten minutes: can you find people with incongruent details, appearances that defy cliché?
Look for unexpected actions, especially against stereotypes. If possible, listen for quirky turns of phrase/unusual ways of speaking.
List for ten minutes to build up a bank of 'tags' for minor characters, or starting points for more important ones.
N.B. If you haven't got 20 minutes spare, just list for ten.

7. Word work
Divide a page into three columns. Write Positive, Neutral, Negative across the top, one title for each column.
List verbs to do with behaviour in the columns they best fit in for ten minutes: e.g. amuse, ask, annoy
(you don't have go by alphabet or alliteration, but if it pleases you, why not?).

Photo by Linh Pham on Unsplash

 ★ We'd love to read YOUR work. 

If you've used any aspect of Starters for Ten on your blog/website/somewhere on t'Internet, then please post a link on the Words & Pictures FB page or tell us on Twitter. We'll tell everyone about your genius (well, as many as we can.).

Featured image: Pen, Watch, Paper by Eduardo Olszewski via Unsplash 

K. M. Lockwood writes, reads and edits in The Garret.  
Once downstairs, she runs a tiny writer-friendly B&B/retreat or wanders off  looking for sea-glass on the Sussex coast.
Twitter: @lockwoodwriter

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