Sunday, September 21, 2008

He Said What?? (A Characterization Exercise)


Here in NC I've just come home from the weekend-long SCBWI NC/SC Annual Fall Conference. It was a great time of learning, networking, and practicing (pitches and first pages, among other things)!
Many people from this region will be sharing news and insights gained at the conference on their blogs over the next few weeks. Hooray!
I will too. But not today.
Today I'm posting an exercise to help us keep the momentum and enthusiasm that we gained at the conference, by doing something hands-on to move our stories forward at home.

Here's how it works.
I received a "meme" from my friend and fellow blogger Chrisy Evers last week. It was a list of questions that I was supposed to answer about myself. I was to post the answers on my blog. It was a fun idea. (Thanks Christy!) But I decided to do it a bit differently than asked. I let one of my characters answer the questions in my place. This allowed me to see how well I really knew him, and let me get a better feel for his thoughts, his voice, and the way that he might feel about internet quizes such as this. : )
I typed the questions, then filled them out from my character's mindset. It was great fun -- and I recommend it to all of you as a characterization exercise to try! Don't think too hard while doing it. Just let the answers flow. BE your character.
And you'll be reminded of the answers to many questions...
What words does your character use to form his/her responses (speech style/writing patterns/vocab); Which of these questions does he appreciate, and which ones, if any, does he think are stupid? Does she fill this out grudgingly and sparsely, or does she go on and on until someone has to tell her to shut up? What is her favorite fruit, anyway? And if it's cherries, doesn't it make you wonder why?

It's a fun exercise. And I'd love to hear if you learned anything about your character by doing it!

What would that girl do if she found $100.00, anyway? Do tell!

Meanwhile, without further adoo, here is the `meme' quiz as filled out by my teen protagonist, Nate. (Questions are in bold and answers not bolded.)
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WHO ARE YOU? (A Character Meme -- By Nate)
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1.) What are your nicknames?Wings Jr;” “Einstein;” “Sherlock;” Whatever Rufus decides to call me today…
2.) What game show and/or reality show would you like to be on? None. My life is crazy enough, thanks. The last thing I need is more press.
3.) What was the first movie you bought on VHS or DVD? DVD…? Do they even make those anymore?
4.) What is your favorite scent? Jet oil and metal. Ok, yeah -- it reminds me of Dad.
5.) If you had a million dollars that you could only spend on yourself, what would you do with it? Let me get through this current crisis first, and then I’ll get back to you.
6.) What one place have you visited that you can’t forget, and want to go back to? Well I haven’t been there yet -- and I’m not sure that I want to go anymore, honestly -- but I always believed we’d have a summer home on the moon.
(The school psychologist isn't getting a copy of this, is he?)
7.) Do you trust easily? I used to.
8.) Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think? I always think before I act. The only time I didn’t do that, I ended up sleeping in a graveyard.
9.) Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days? Seriously? Do you have to ask that question?
10.) Do you have a good body image? Uh…?
11.) What is your favorite fruit? Well, some days I like apples and some days I don’t. It depends how my girlfriend is acting.
12.) What websites do you visit daily? The only one I care about right now is restricted – so, none, really. Unless you count the FAA.
13.) What have you been seriously addicted to lately? Trissa.
14.) What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is? Well, I don’t really know her. (She’s Janelle’s friend, and we’ve never met.) But Janelle says she’s brilliant, and very funny, and she’s blonde. Rufus would want to go out with her.
15.) What’s the last song that got stuck in your head? Dust in the wind. Yeah, I know it’s ancient. But do I really have to explain this?
16.) What’s your favorite item of clothing? My last-year’s sweatshirt.
17.) Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy? Unless they're served in the school cafeteria.
18.) What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground? These days I’d think it was a trap laid down by Anderson to try to arrest me… but if it wasn’t, I guess I’m pretty pathetic, so I’d probably just turn it in to the school.
19.) What items could you not go without during the day? Plato. Plus access to my robotics supplies.
20.) What should you be doing right now? Stalking Reilly. But have you seen him? Yeah, crap… Neither have I.

12 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Janelle,
What a great idea. And good job! I know I caught a glimpse of your character lurking behind the words.

Ian Sands said...

OK Janelle, I took on the challenge.. see blog for details.

Janelle said...

Awesome, Ian! Read it. Loved it!

Thanks Bish! Do I see a certain spider in your meme future?

C.R. Evers said...

cute! great idea.

christy

Bish Denham said...

Janelle, I have to tell you I had lots of fun with this meme. I hope you stop by my blog and read what Anansi had to say!

Janelle said...

Loved it, Bish! Anansi showed through in every word! And I'm thrilled that he thinks I'm almost as smart as he is. :)

See, isn't this fun? I think I'll try it with another one of my characters every time that I get into a writing funk. It gets the brain moving.

just Joan said...

Hi Nate! Long time no see.

That was fun. I especially liked the last one. LOL

Janelle said...

Ah, Joan! Someone who really DOES know Nate. : ) Glad to see you again!

just Joan said...

"Ah, Nate, I knew him well . . ." but he's probably changed quite a bit since last I "saw" him.

Yeah, every now and then I step out of the dark and back into the light of the blogging world. *grin*

Janelle said...

LOL Joan. Yes indeed - WELCOME BACK!

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Yves said...

Hi, came across your blog while doing a search on character exercises for my class. I love this idea and am using it for a secondary character. I will also post it on my blog. Again, this was great and fun. Thank you for sharing...