Next to scene development, character development is the other most crucial aspect of your story.
It is so important in fact, that you can have a best selling novel that has absolutely no plot or action as long as the characters are so well developed the readers don’t notice.
Unfortunately, character development to that degree is as hard to find as the Loch Ness Monster.
Which is why our current writing prompts are so important. We started by identifying a lowly character in our story and giving him or her a deeper back story.
Next, we took one of the traits or characteristics and developed it even further.
Today, we will follow suit and work on character development even further: Integration.
Integrating a character into your story is fairly simple. If you need them in the scene, you write them into the scene. The problem is, though, that an author simply writing a character in feels forced.
However, if you put your friend into the story, it means a great deal more. When you take the time to develop all of your characters, not just the main ones, your story begins to come to life.
When you know your characters completely (as we have been working on the last few days) they become real to you.
They have traits and feelings and mannerisms. And while the reader may never see any of these things for the clerk at the corner store, or the barber across the street, you will know.
And when you put that living, breathing person into his spot behind that cash register, the reader will feel it, too. That, my friends, is integration.
Let’s take a look at the prompt then, shall we?
Write your character into a scene with a minimalist role.
For this prompt I want you to think about your current story. Pick a scene where there should be interaction but there isn’t. For example, if your MC is walking down the street, she may not talk to anyone.
However, if you were watching this scene on a screen in real time, there would be background characters. People in the shops, someone eating at the corner cafe, other people on the sidewalk.
I want you to take the small-time character we have been working on developing into this scene.
Don’t have a current scene? No problem! Just make one up. If you want, you can use this secondary prompt:
Eddie walks into a barber shop looking for Cheryl. She isn’t there, but is supposed to be.
Write this scene and integrate the character from our previous prompts into it.
Here is What I Came Up With
Eddie burst through the doors of the barber shop. The sweat and anticipation were visibly running down his temples. The sudden interruption of an otherwise quiet atmosphere made everyone in the shop stop and look.
While the barber and patrons were shocked and upset, Hector Regala remained still and unimpressed.
He tipped the edge of the newspaper down to glance at the young man standing, out of breath, in the doorway. He’d seen this look before.
Hector knew Eddie was looking for someone. If he had to guess, this Eddie was in trouble and looking for a ghost. Hector tried not to chuckle.
It couldn’t be that bad, could it? Compared to the things he had lived through, Hector couldn’t see anything worse. Still, he cared for the intruder.
Part of him wanted to take Eddie aside and help him solve whatever problem he was facing. The rest of him, though, knew better. Any approach would only anger Eddie. Most likely he would lash out, maybe even throw a punch or two.
Sadly, Hectors life experience and calm demeanor were going to be of no use. He flicked the paper straight and continued to read the article.
“Hey! What’s the matter man? You okay?” The barber said, approaching Eddie.
“Shut up! Leave me be. Where is she? Where is Cheryl?” Eddie asked.
“Look man,” continued the barber, “I don’t know any Cheryl. She isn’t here, man.”
Eddie stood straight and got in the barber’s face. His anger spewed form hip lips as his hand balled into a fist. Before anyone could react, he swung, knocking the barber to the floor with a well timed punch to the jaw.
Eddie looked around one more time and ran off down the street.
How Did I Integrate?
See if you can tell how I used what I knew of Hector’s past from our development exercises to fully integrate him into this scene.
If I hadn’t taken the time to build his back story and get to know him as a real person, this integration would be as smooth.
Even for something made up off the top of my head just now, you can see how seamless Hector’s part became. He had instincts and thoughts and emotion.
None of that would be possible without knowing his story.
When you have finished your writing for this prompt, be sure to share it with us in the comment section below!