What is in a name, and what does it say about a character?
A few months ago, I challenged readers to write a brief character study "Inspired by a Phone Book." Cecilia Guerra was the name that popped up for me, and I wrote a fictional account of a person whose real name appears in a local phone book.
Today, I am challenging you to a similar exercise with a slightly simpler task. No grammar or paragraphs necessary, just a list of things to know about your character.
You can approach the list by stating facts, such as demographics and career, by acknowledging major events that have happened in a character's life, by compiling a list of adjectives to describe the character, by their passions in life, whatever you would like to do. You just have to list it. If you want to take it to the next level today or at some point in the future, you will have something to work off of!
writercize: Go to a random name generator. Get your random name and compile a list of 10-20 things about that character.
(If you are currently working on a novel or short story, skip the name generator, and pick one of your characters who is giving you the most trouble. Use them for this exercise to get to know them better!)
Please share your results here, and feel free to leave your website if you'd like me to reciprocate the visit. (This post inspired by the GBE2 Week 44 - "Make a List and Title It." GBE, aka the Group Blogging Experience, is open to membership and housed on Facebook.)
Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.writercizer sample response:
20 Things About ...
Character: Gale Wienandt (from random name generator)
- Tires of correcting people - she is not "whine-ant" or "wine-ant" - she is "veen-ohnt" - surely marriage will fix this problem
- Dating a guy whose last name is Beercat - maybe marriage won't fix the problem
- News anchor
- Occasionally suffers from a nervous tic
- Has been dying her hair red for so long she can't remember the real color
- North Dakota girl
- Moved to San Diego for warm weather
- Hates sand
- Loves puzzles
- Thinking about botox
- Has a closet full of running clothes, but never runs
- Met her best friend in third grade
- 36 years old
- Favorite subject in school was history
- Still loves MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and Arrested Development
- Gets frequent haircuts just for the head massage
- Briefly tried gerbils, fish and birds as pets, but really wants a lease that allows a dog
- Picks up the mail twice a week
- Has Star Magazine and The Economist on her bedside table