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 [...]

Exercise: You Don’t Say!

I stumbled upon (rediscovered?) this exercise looking for a prompt almost two weeks ago. It’s very simple—so of course, it never occurred to me to put it down all the way. Like many of my other exercises, this one is about description and visualization—about getting across what you want to say without saying it directly.
Let’s [...]

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: Retelling and Reaction

A long time ago, I suggested an exercise in which the object of the game was to come up with a character’s retelling of an event, in voice. But no story is told in a vacuum, and few are told without someone to hear them.
For this exercise, then, choose two characters and one event. It [...]

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 [...]

Characterization Exercise: Define “Hero”

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival, on the subject of Heroes, Living and Dead, got me thinking about the term. “Hero” is a pretty subjective term, as these things go; some people consider heroism to be anything that involves improving other people’s lives, others see it as risking one’s life, there are still more whose main [...]

Characterization/Plot Exercise: The Switch

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell how much of a character’s personality is her and how much is her surroundings. Hopefully, a character’s personality will be independent of her role in the narrative she’s involved in, whether it’s a tabletop game or some sort of fiction. But what better way to check than to [...]