Unblocker #21: Implication, Indirection

Today’s writing prompt comes from Ursula K. Le Guin‘s fabulous little book, Steering The Craft.

For today’s prompt, you need a character you are already working with in a novel, story, or, at the very least, a character that has been kicking around inside your head for a while, begging for a role in your next blockbuster story.

Write this in the third person, not from the character’s point of view.

The exercise is to describe your character by detailing some place the character frequently goes. The character is NOT present while you are describing this place. The “place” you chose can be very specific, but it should be no more general than, say, a specific house or a specific beach or a specific park. Don’t be so general as to loose the ability to show us something about the character THROUGH THE PLACE you’ve chosen, but also don’t be so forward as to even MENTION the character.

In this exercise, you, the author, are making choices about what you want the reader to see in a scene, based on the character who hasn’t arrived yet to the scene. Think about the things you are including, and the things you are not including. Do you have reasons for both? When you are done, make a list of the significant items you’ve placed into this scene, and beside each, write ONE word that describes both that item AND a character trait of your absent character.

For a twist, do this exercise backward. Start with a list of character traits for your character, then create a physical item for each trait, and then populate a new world with those items so that your character has somewhere purposeful to live.

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