Writing Exercise 4: A Space Alien Might Make A Good Priest
As we develop our characters, we often fall into the habit of placing them in a single type of role and plot. For example, for years one of my characters was stuck on a California horse ranch. Having him on the ranch felt comfortable, familiar. He became boring. Now my character is a modern day pirate turned Catholic priest with an attitude you would not expect from a priest. He is unpredictable, sometimes shocking, and enjoys every second of it.
I have discovered things about his personality I never suspected. Write a scene involving your character in a completely new situation. Has your gentle mother character been in the kitchen for too long? Let her have a wild night out on the town with the girls! Dancing on tabletops and stuffing money into a male stripper’s thong would be good for her. If she is uncomfortable in a nightclub, have something happen that shakes her out of her uneasiness. Maybe she starts a brawl with a gang member? Hey, it could happen.
Have your mysterious dark hero, whether human or alien, attend a PTA meeting in place of his busy sister. Will he volunteer to bring the cupcakes for the next school function or will he upset the meeting in some manner? Have the new situation force your character to do and say things he or she normally would not, even if stuck with a burning fork. You want your character to express his or her deepest self. Doing so forces your character to overcome fears and inhibitions. Maybe he or she will develop new fears as a result? This will open wide your choice of future plot lines. Placing your characters into unexpected situations is a great way to add dimensional layers to your characters, as well as develop fresh plot ideas.
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