Today is a little different. It may be the weather. Not sure.
What I do know, though, is that the writing prompt today is going to be a little challenging for most of you.
A challenge, you say? I do. But not in the way you are thinking. I’m actually setting up an obstacle course for you to run.
Okay, I’m kidding, and you may find today’s prompt quite easy. I guess we will find out.
The lesson today, though is a simple one. Attitude.
Your attitude as a writer is one thing (and if you subscribed to the newsletter, you’d have gotten another experiment for that in today’s issue).
What I am talking about today, though, is the attitude of your characters. This is yet another thing that many writer’s get wrong and if you don’t know it, you won’t know it. Once you realize it, though, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Have you ever read a book or watched a film and the characters reacted or acted in a way that seemed wrong for the scene? It happens a lot. Some happy news and the character acts like they won the lottery when in truth they just found a pen.
Or a sad scene when a loved one dies and the character just seems to pretend to be sad? These things irk me to no end. And, of course, I am not talking about those that are supposed to “over-act.” I get that. I’m talking about just bad writing.
Let’s quash that and help you avoid doing the same in your projects.
Pick an emotion and write a scene that expresses that emotion from all involved characters. Make each character have a different level of reaction showing that emotion.
Bonus points if you have at least 4 characters. The more the merrier.
Here you want to write your scene and introduce your characters, then introduce the situation that makes them react.
The goal here, is to have each of them react differently, and hopefully on different levels. For example, if you are writing a happy scene, perhaps a birthday or something, you want one character to be overly excited. Another should be slightly happy, yet another mildly excited, and so on.
As you write, you will need to force yourself to write certain characters reactions. Others will come more natural to you.
When you are done, it is important to read the project back (out loud helps). You may even want to act it out and get a feel for how each character is truly reacting.
Can you identify who is reacting as they “should?” Which one is under-reacting and which ones (or ones) are over-reacting?
This identification is crucial. When you can easily identify the over and under reactions, you will know what to avoid.
It is more than that, though. Because we get into our habits, we don’t always notice. This exercise is designed to force you to take notice.
Once you know what to look for, those little triggers that make you say “okay, this is too much” (or not enough), you won’t be able to not see it.
So practice well, and often. Make it a new habit and get those character attitudes down the right way.
Also, don’t forget to share your scene with the rest of us in the comment section so we can all practice with each other’s stories.