Sometimes stories can come to us in a very fantastical form. One minute we’re sitting at our favorite indie dive bar, catching up with a friend, then all of a sudden we’re transported to a fantasy world. Perhaps it’s the way the light glinted off one of the bottles at the bar or a very regal-looking necklace donned by a patron, but suddenly we’re brimming with ideas and ready to completely disconnect from reality.
On the other hand, sometimes stories come from a place much closer to home. Each of us has our own stories throughout our lives, moments that have shaped us into the person that we are today. Although not every author is interested in writing a memoir or autobiography, examining the important moments in our own lives and the ways that they’ve formed us is a great way to help create that connection between events and character in your own novel.
For example, take a particularly embarrassing moment that you had in middle school where you spilled milk all over the front of your pants in the middle of the cafeteria. How did that moment, and the feelings that it elicited, change your behavior, how you acted, and your perception of yourself and the world as a whole?
There are also the good important moments, like when you got your first job out of school or met your partner or when you and a family member had a really heartfelt moment together. How did those moments change or shape your life? How did your perspective or character change based on that moment?
Writing Prompt: Make a list of the most important character-shaping moments throughout your own life and why those instances changed you. Choose one and write a scene from that moment. As you’re writing the scene, make sure both you and your readers can see the connection between the event and character development.
Make sure that your readers can see a difference in the character (you) before and after this important event or moment. And, if you want to keep it more anonymous, feel free to change up the character names or even embellish the event if there are portions you can’t completely remember. Being good at embellishing is another important writing skill, right?