Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Writing Exercise

Answer the five questions below for a new character or a character you would like to more fully develop.

1. What is your occupation?
2. Write a full physical description of yourself. You might want to consider factors such as: height, weight, race, hair and eye color, style of dress, and any tattoos, scars, or distinguishing marks.
3. To which social class do you belong?
4. Do you have any allergies, diseases, or other physical weaknesses?
5. Are you right- or left-handed?
Happy writing!

Susan Wells Bennett


  1. More about Olivia
    1. I’m a full-time student, and I apprentice with a catering company. Cake decorating is my secret passion. I’ve got tons of sketches in a notebook with ideas for wedding cakes and birthday cakes. My favorite show is Cake Boss or Ace of Cakes.
    2. I feel like I’m filling out a Match.com survey. I just turned twenty in August. I’m pretty tall at 5”8”. My weight fluctuates between 130 and 140. I’m a white girl with brown hair and eyes. Neither one is my best feature. After seventeen months of braces, I have straight teeth. I wear a lot of jeans and cotton underwear. I hate sweatshirts and hoodies. My favorite piece in my wardrobe is a deep, dark, blue cashmere sweater that I got as a gift. No tattoos…my dad would kill me. When I was thirteen, I gashed my knee open and I had to have stitches. There is a thin white line of a scar. Also I have a slight indentation just above my left ear from an injury that I have no memory of ever happening. I like to rub that spot to soothe myself when I’m nervous. My hair completely covers it.
    3. My family is upper middle class. So are all my friends. My dad built our house in Landis and it is huge. There is also a beach house that my dad inherited when Grandpa died. So even with economic downturn, we’re doing okay.
    4. Other than my dyslexia, I don’t have any health issues. I’m a slow learner. I’m not real coordinated (you should see me dance…embarrassing!), but I’m fierce on a bicycle. I ride most every day, but I don’t take my bike into the city. I cry easily which I consider a physical weakness. If I could change one thing about myself, I would never cry again. Either that or maybe bigger boobs. My little sisters are bigger than me.
    5. I’m a rightie. When I get into a bar fight, I have a right upper hook that just destroys my opponent. I’m just kidding. I’ve never been in a fight in my life.

  2. When I was in high school, one of my teachers gave the class this questionnaire. We were supposed to get in the mind of our character and answer the questions. This was supposed to give us insight into our character’s subconscious. I always liked this exercise so I’m going to post it here. I hope that is okay with you. Answer all four questions before you read the last part.

    As your character:
    1. Pick a color. Now think of three words to describe that color. Write them here:
    2. Pick an animal. Think of three words to describe this animal.
    3. Pick a body of water. Three words to describe this.
    4. Close your eyes and think of a white room. Three words to describe how the room makes you feel.

    1. The three words describing a color indicate how you would describe yourself to others.
    2. The three words about an animal reveal how you feel about other people.
    3. The words about the body of water relate to your sex life.
    4. The white room words are how you feel about death.

    I always thought this was interesting.

  3. Shelly,

    Olivia is coming along nicely. This line -- "No tattoos…my dad would kill me." -- really gives insight into her family relationships.

    As for posting your exercise, thank you for sharing it. I'd never seen that one before! I'm going to try it out the next time I get stuck on a character.

  4. Still working on Barbara/Jennifer:

    1. I know I used to work in a department store. The hours were flexible and left me with plenty of time to pursue my Masters degree in Sociology. My colleagues must be missing me by now. Here at the farm, though, I’m in charge of the kitchen while another woman with half my intelligence is teaching the children. My sister-wives tell me I’ve never been to college and they laugh when I tell them they’re lying to me.

    2. I know what I look like in my mind, but there are no mirrors here – I don’t know if I’m remembering correctly. I’m 5’6”. My hair is dark brown and my eyes are green. I have strong cheekbones, an inheritance from a Cherokee ancestor. I used to dress modestly, usually wearing jeans and loose shirts to class and navy or black pantsuits to work. Now, I’m dressed in like my sister-wives in a solid-color prairie dress – mine is pink – and white apron.

    3. My parents raised me in a comfortable upper-middle-class neighborhood. With their encouragement, I decided to support myself through college – Dad said it would build my character and help me to identify with my future patients.

    4. I am not allergic to anything that I am aware of, and I was a regular at the gym before these people kidnapped me.

    5. I’m right-handed.


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