A fun character exercise

My husband gave me a book for Christmas called Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Neubauer- it has one thousand 10-minute writing exercises to stimulate your writing.

I had fun with exercise no. 43 today, which challenged me make lists of things a character might carry in his or her pocket.

The character I selected is a recently divorced 52-year old man. Here are his lists:

New Year’s resolutions…
1. sign up for membership at the gym
2. look into getting hair plugs
3. sign up for Facebook and Twitter

Current shopping list…
1. steak
2. lunchmeat
3. bread
4. chips
5. mayo
6. frozen pizza
7. 12-pack Leinies (for Sunday’s game)

Chores or errands for the weekend…
1. unpack four boxes sitting in the hall
2. meet with lawyer to hammer out visitation details
3. pick up the kids on Friday

Dream places to visit…
1. St. Thomas
2. Motorcycle tour of Europe

Calls and emails to be returned…
1. his ex-wife’s seven messages about the kids (listen and delete)
2. her attorney’s email about child support
3. his mother’s message, checking in to see how he’s doing and if he’ll be coming for Thanksgiving

Five things he’s always putting off…
1. calling Laura from the office, who he’s pretty sure has been flirting with him
2. getting a 60-inch plasma
3. getting a convertible
4. getting a dog
5. getting a colonoscopy


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Natasha
    Feb 16, 2010 @ 09:44:20

    What fun! I might try this exercise with one of my characters who, despite all my efforts, is STILL boring, to see if I can add some worthwhile quirks.

    And she’s the one who’s based on me, too. What a bummer….

    (Not to suggest I don’t have quirks, I do — they just don’t seem novel-worthy.)


    • kathanink
      Feb 16, 2010 @ 11:17:10

      LOL – I am sure you have plenty of novel worthy quirks!! 😀 That’s if you’re like the rest of us…and where something’s missing, make it up! It’s fiction!


  2. dayner
    Feb 15, 2010 @ 22:21:23

    That does sound like a great book!
    This list is pretty funny. I think you should find a 52 year old recently divorce man and see if it’s comparable. 🙂


    • kathanink
      Feb 16, 2010 @ 11:16:05

      It’s a fun book and it’s a great way to get you to write at least 10 min a day. Just to keep yourself loose, etc.

      I think my character was pretty cliche, but it was fun!


  3. darksculptures
    Feb 15, 2010 @ 17:41:28

    This looks like fun. I just might have to try this.

    How are the other exercises? Would you recommend the book?

    I usually work off a prompt or an idea for my freewriting, but it is not a very constructive method. I was wondering if this book actually helps you develop ideas for characters or something useful like that. I might be interested in purchasing it if it does.


    • kathanink
      Feb 16, 2010 @ 11:15:14

      I like this book, but really it’s just a lot of writing prompts, most of them more fun or silly…this particular one had more to do with character. If you’re looking for a book to help you develop characters, I wouldn’t get it. If you’re looking for something fun to use as original writing prompts (I’ve never seen most of these), it’s a pretty good book.


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