Years ago I gave myself permission to write without censorship from my internal editor. To write what I enjoyed reading and to just be free to write whatever came into my consciousness.
Of course that resulted in pages and pages of material that I discarded, but I also began to form a characterization from this type of stream of consciousness writing. That character became my Main Character, Tina Munroe. Up until that point I had been forcing my character onto her and making very little progress with the development of her character.
Now I use this type of free form writing as an exercise to break away from my preconceived notions and personality and eventually uncover different characters. I think of this type of exercise as allowing the muse to take the reins and develop the characters on the page independently from me.
Another exercise is where I make a list of emotions, or states of being: Sadness, anger, fear OR vengeful, envious, greedy and write a paragraph showing a character in the throes of said emotion or state of being.
I’ve read that these types of exercises help to find one’s voice. Another interesting exercise is writing AS someone else. Say, writing the same paragraph over and over but as a different persona. Shakespeare would write that paragraph quite differently from James Patterson.
What writing exercises do you practice that help you flesh out your characters, or to find your voice, or your character’s voices?
Nancy A. Niles is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win, published by Second Wind Publishing Co.