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Writing Exercise 3: This Could Get Dangerous

Defining your fictional characters' voices is important. What is equally vital, though, is grasping your characters' humanity, the core of their fictional soul. A good way to learn how to do this is by observing an incident through another living person's eyes. For this exercise, choose your spouse, a relative, or your best friend to play the fictional character in a 500-word dramatic scene. Write using either third person or first person point of view. Traumatic situations force people to reveal their true self.

In other words, actions speak louder than words. How would your chosen person react in a traumatic situation, a blind date, for example, or a wildfire? Don't be blinded by your feelings for the person. You love your spouse, but how would he or she truthfully react if faced with a wildfire? Consider objectively what you know about the person, and then what you sense. We react instinctively toward other people, though we often pay no attention to the quiet voice in the back of our minds. Listen to what your quiet voice tells you about the hidden humanity of your chosen person, and then weave the information into your fictional character.

The humanity you need to bring your character to life is hidden behind the friendly smile you see every day. You might want to keep this exercise away from the eyes of your chosen person. He or she might not appreciate being made into a fictional character. Do not use your chosen person's name for your character! Your life may be on the line. Grasp your character's humanity and you will give your character a soul your readers can believe in.


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