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Two Kinds of People

"There are two types of people: those that talk the talk and those that walk the walk. People who walk the walk sometimes talk the talk but most times they don't talk at all, 'cause they walkin'. Now, people who talk the talk, when it comes time for them to walk the walk, you know what they do? They talk people like me into walkin' for them," said Key in the 2005 film Hustle and Flow. Which of these two types are your characters? Write down an exchange between two of your characters that confronts this very difference between them.

Do The Unexpected

Humans are highly resistant to change - for a character to believably undergo a personal journey that substantially alters them, something HUGE and specific must happen to them. This event doesn't have to happen in your story, but once you can identify your character's limits, you can determine what is required to create a potential change in their fundamental nature.For this exercise, determine what this catalyst for change might be by considering situations or attributes that feel counterintuitive. For instance, if your character is a Good Samaritan, it is unlikely they would commit a crime. What would have to be at stake for this unlikely situation to happen - and for a core part of your character to change?

What Did You Say?

Part of writing great dialogue is ensuring each character has a unique voice. Pretend three of your characters have won the lottery. How does each character reveal the big news to their closest friend? Write out their dialogue with unique word choice, tone, and body language in mind.

Lists Are Your Friend

If you have 5 minutes, prep for your outlining by making a list of lists. This could include:

  • 5 possible endings for your book
  • 5 twists
  • 5 possible subplots
  • 5 ways the subplots could tie into the main plot
  • 5 ways the character could grow
  • 5 surprising things that we could learn about a character
  • 5 ways to add some unexpected elements to the book (humor, suspense, sadness, fear)
  • 5 ways to describe the main setting/another setting

The Impersonator

This is Part I of an exercise that practices voice. Pick up a book written by an author that you admire. Absorb the voice in which they write. Now try writing a page of your own story, but in their voice.

A Tall, Dark Stranger

Write a scene where your character is speaking to a complete stranger. Immediately after, write a scene where your character is speaking to a loved one. Notice how their behavior changes.

A Whole Week

Describe each day of the week as if it were a person. Give each one personality traits, a job, and a goal. Write a short story about them.