Friday, July 15, 2011

A Character Excercise Without The Gym


We’re not talking pumping iron here, but we are going to give your characters a workout. Actually, it’s you who will work on developing your characters.

I read an interesting tweet on Twitter last night. Someone had bought a used book at the thrift store and when she got home, she found a fifty-dollar bill stuck between its pages.

I don’t know if she kept it or not, but my first thought was what would I do if I found money that wasn’t mine stuffed inside something I had purchased? Technically, the money would belong to me, but what about morally? What would be the right thing to do?

I thought it interesting to provide the money with backstory as to who it originally belonged to and how it got inside the book to begin with. Was it someone with a kind heart giving the money away to someone less fortunate who had to shop in a thrift store? Or was it someone who had received the book as a gift and didn’t realize money had been included as part of the present? Did the author him or herself stick money in the book just to see what would happen?

Rather than think about what I would do, my thoughts turned to what my characters would do. Which made me think this could be a fun writing exercise. Anyone game to play? Let’s raise the level of interest and include both protagonist and antagonist in this scenario. I’ll go first.

Protagonist: My main character is a thief, and not by choice. A sorcerer owns her through a curse and she is forced to steal for him or suffer the consequences. In her spare time, she makes an effort to pay back the people she has stolen from. The very idea of keeping the money found in the book would make her physically sick. She would go to any lengths to return it to its rightful owner.

Antagonist: He would roll up the fifty dollar bill and use it to light his cigar.

Okay, your turn! ☺

15 comments:

Theresa @ Fade Into Fantasy said...

I'm in no way a writer, but have to try this because it looks so fun.

Protagonist: Being a single mother who has worked her way through college, my main character slips the $50 into the book before dropping it off at the store. She remembers shopping at the same thrift store when she was raising her boys and wants to give a little ray of hope to others.

Antagonist: My antagonist works at the thrift store and stole the $50, hiding it in a book until she could retrieve it at the end of her shift.

Karen Duvall said...

Ooh. A fascinating scenario, Theresa! Thanks for playing. :)

Heidi Windmiller said...

Ohh!! Fun!

Protagonist: Would use the money to buy the girl he likes flowers. This good act would relieve him of any guilt.

Antagonist: $50 for him is change--like finding a quarter in the couch cushions. He would forget about it before the bill is folded in his wallet.

Marlena Cassidy said...

Oh boy. I get to embarrass myself now. ^^;

Protagonist: If he were to find fifty dollars in a used book he might spend at least three days in a panicked crisis, trying to figure out if he should return it to the rightful owner of if he should use it to buy more books.

Antagonist: She would use the fifty dollars to get a haircut and pedi-mani at the first salon she can find. Or she would use it to buy herself a fancy dinner at Olive Garden.

Dean K Miller said...

Protagonist: He'd try really hard to return it to its rightful owner. If he's unable, he'd probabl donate it to charity.

Antagonist: He'd keep it, spend it with a smile on his face...robber/thug by trade.

Karen Duvall said...

Blogger is being mean to me today, it ate my earlier comment. :(

Hey, Heidi, I love that one. I hadn't thought of using the money on someone else. Good idea. :)

Karen Duvall said...

LOL, Marlena, on the panicked protag. Yeah, i could see that happening. And a selfish antag. Yep, makes sense.

Karen Duvall said...

Great, Dean. A likable protag after my own heart. And the antag sounds right in character. Thanks for playing. :)

Janet Fogg said...

Hmmmm...

Pro: Leaving the store, she flips through the book and discovers the $50 - rushes back to hand the money to the clerk. At the bus stop, she flips through it again and discovers another $100 but knows it wasn't there before. She hands it to the homeless man begging for cash. Seated on the bus, she again opens the book and this time finds $150. Crying, she hugs the book to her chest as she wonders who to give the money to, whether it will continue if she always gives the money away...

Ant: Greedy boss demands to know why Pro wants the day off. When she explains, he becomes buddy, buddy, offers to drive her to the Vets Hospital where she first plans to go. Casually asks if he can hold the book, just for a minute...

Jeff Darling said...

Antagonist, having known she was going to get the book hides the 50. Remember, he has her under spell, so he knows what she does. She(protagonist) then goes to great lengths to find the owner of the bill. She talks to the clerk at the store to find out who sold the book, he doesn,t know. Deep inside the book she finds a small scribble which is a phone #. she dials it and finds the mother of the one who sold the book. finally, after getting the money back, is confronted by the antagonist.
"I have you now", he says, and proceeds to invoke his most powerful spell.
She tries to get away, but is held fast by his magic.
When the spell is cast, a great cloud covers everything. When the cloud clears, the antagonist is dead, the girl is free.

Karen Duvall said...

Janet, I love that one. Very imaginative. You should develop that idea into a complete story. :)

Jeff, this is great. I like how you have both protag and antag play it out in a scene.

Julianne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julianne said...

Ooh, this is fun! My protag would agonize over it for a few days (because of course the shop would be closed for the weekend or a holiday the next day) then take it back to the shop, probably getting there a half-hour before the shop opens. The *manager* would shrug it off. Fifty dollars is chump change really to someone like that. I doubt the cops of her town would give it much a sniff. But she would finally get the manager to take it. He's then killed by a hoodlum, who snatches the money, and notes the word "gumshoe" written on it--a Code Word for where the Real Treasure is, of course--and goes after the girl, thinking she knows where the treasure is and/or thinks she's using it to make contact with him to hand him the bigger loot. And of course, the clerk who rung her up that day, she feels just guilt-ridden this loyal customer's in trouble. But the clerk has a brother who's an undercover cop, so she brings him in to help the girl. They fall in love, catch the bad guy, and live happily ever after.

Patricia Stoltey said...

This is a fun exercise, Karen. My protagonist would think about it for a long time, but would eventually call the vendor and ask if there's any way to contact the previous owner so the cash could be returned.

My antagonist wouldn't hesitate. He'd tell himself that anyone who left $50 in a book deserved to lose it. He would immediately spend it.

Karen Duvall said...

Wow, Julianne, you have an entire story going there. Good for you!

Pat, that's a very pragmatic character you got there. And i'm thinking maybe your antag makes a good point... hm...