Posts belonging to Category Exercises

Characterization Exercise: Where Is This Problem Going?

I blame the US government shutdown for this one. If I hadn’t been tracking it, trying to figure out whether I’d be out of work (and then, when I’d go back to it), I’d wouldn’t have gotten suckered onto far too many comment threads. (Curse my curiosity!) If I hadn’t been looking at the comment [...]

Exercise: Ten Questions

Sometimes, you have a character (or other story element or feature) who just isn’t coming through. Sometimes, you have a person—in your audience, in your game group, wherever—whose take on what you’re doing you just can’t figure out. And sometimes, you can get these two things to cancel out.
In some order, choose yourself a character [...]

Reprise: Secondary Character Exercise: Someone Else’s Story

Originally posted January 27, 2010.
One of the biggest problems people often see with secondary characters is when their creator doesn’t take much of an interest in them. I’m not saying they suddenly need to steal the story, but it helps to spend a little time in their heads, make them more than [...]

Exercise: In Monochrome

This is somewhat similar to my old “driver’s license” exercise, only slightly less restrictive. What it boils down to is this: even if we don’t necessarily all agree on what colors there are and what categories they fit into (this coming from a person who was raised on the Crayola marker spectrum who occasionally gets [...]

Basic Flash-Characterization Exercise: The Dragonbreath-Style Summary

One of the things I’ve been discussing with my boyfriend for a while are tips for him in quickly generating background or semi-important characters. I was thinking about this a while back, and through some bizarre pattern of associative memory, I started thinking about the cover summaries on Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath books. (No, this post [...]

Characterization Exercise: What’s a Bad Day?

We’ve all had bad days. The trolley we needed to catch pulled out of the station just as the one we were on was pulling in, the food slips off our fork the one day we were wearing our nicest clothing… yeah. Not the kind of bad day that changes your life forever, just the [...]

Characterization Exercise: Try to Be Civil!

This one was originally suggested to me by Shinali, though I’ve elaborated on it a bit.
For this characterization exercise, you’ll need two characters who, if they were to run into each other in most contexts, would be at each other’s throats—physically, verbally, or otherwise. They don’t necessarily have to be from the same world, but [...]

Characterization Exercise: “Now That You’re Borrowing My Shoes….”

While it may not necessarily feel true for a lot of people, most people have some specific role they fill which, if it were to be filled by someone else, would require a certain amount of instruction. Fictional characters, be they from a story or game, almost all have roles like this; after all, designing [...]

Exercise: A Portrait of a Social Dynamic

I’m not going to even consider quoting Tolstoy on this one. Happy families are not all alike, save to the kind of person who sees happiness and assumes it a default state, an absence of any effort to reach that point or of crisis to tear it away. Social dynamics, similarly, are never exactly alike—it [...]

Exercise: Leave Your License In Your Pocket!

A lot of people, when they settle down to describe a character, start with a pretty vague description. They have a height, or at least an approximate height range, a hair color, and an eye color. It’s like being handed a character’s driver’s license, only with the picture and most of the geographic information either [...]