Character creation has always been one of my favorite parts of a story to tackle. It’s something I have always approached as a challenge to push myself, and the techniques I use in creating my characters, to the next level. I keep a goal to continue creating characters that persistently become deeper, richer, and more complex, most importantly, that my readers relate more and more to them. I want them to become fully invested in the experiences and outcomes my characters endure as the story unfolds.
This process of believability is essential to the creation of solid fiction writing, as well as keeping the reader’s attention from beginning and middle into the final resolution. One of the best techniques in assisting writers in creating these complex, rich characters are creative writing prompts geared towards those embarrassing, vulnerable moments that can expose the true nature of how people behave. Generating authentic material from these prompts can be a great contribution in creating relatability and sympathy within the reader.
I have created 25 writing prompts and/or exercises to help generate those important qualities and characteristics that can be applied in a variety of writing genres: blogs, essays, memoirs, and fiction writing. The following prompts have been written in second person to maintain clarity.
- You are walking the shoreline on a crowded beach when your bikini top comes undone and springs forward exposing your chest to all the groups of people lounging in the sand.
- You send an email or text under the guise of “liquid courage” professing your undying love; only to realize, you’ve sent it to the wrong person.
- You enter a room full of seated people find an empty seat to sit in and it breaks.
- You walk into the wrong business meeting, funeral service, or classroom.
- You tell your best friend about a personal/intimate experience then realize the people sitting near you overheard everything.
- You are at a concert or movie theater making your way back to your seat with a full drink and spill it on a person seated below you.
- You are having sex and start your period.
- You congratulate a woman on expecting a child. She’s not pregnant.
- You run up to a person from behind and light-heartedly spank them on the ass thinking it is your significant other, then realize it is a complete stranger.
- You exaggerate a story in front of a group of people you want to impress until someone starts asking in-depth questions about it.
- You walk on stage to make a speech or accept an award and take an epic fall.
- You say the wrong name when reciting your wedding vows.
- You walk into a pole, bush, or trip on a curb walking and texting.
- You realize you have been calling a new co-worker the wrong name for weeks.
- You show up to a dinner at your friend’s house on the wrong night.
- Your sister or brother reads your diary or poetry at school in front of a group of people.
- You realize you have on shoes that don’t match.
- You wear a formal gown to the office Christmas party and everyone else is dressed business casual.
- You sneeze during a presentation in front of a group that causes you to fart at the same time.
- You throw up all over the cake, or presents, or food at your best friend’s birthday party.
- You take a naked selfie for someone then find out they broadly distributed it.
- A family member exposes a private secret in front of the rest of the family.
- You are singing your heart out with earbuds in, then turn around, and someone is standing behind you.
- You attend a religious event with a friend, then eat something sacred from the offering plate.
- You send a mass email to top executives with one or several typos.
Once I generated this list, I recognized just how many people have experienced one or more of these embarrassing situations. All the more reason to dive in and enjoy expanding on them and finding priceless characteristics that will create even stronger characters your readers will fall in love with.