Ages ago I wrote a tragic backstory for one of my characters. It wasn’t much—never even finished—and the piece didn’t make it into the actual story. But I had fun with it, and it was a great writing exercise. I’ve noticed some other writers also doing small stories like that…writings outside the real story-line. Little side stories and scenarios can actually be useful for world and character building, and can be a great kick-start for when writing is slow. But more than that, they provide a great writing romp! I’ve thought up a few scenarios for writing prompts:
How does a character go about their regular day while coping with headache and constant sneezing? Do they even try, or do they spend the whole day on the couch? Who is there to give them chicken soup? If the setting isn’t on earth this is a chance to create new diseases—and cures too, of course.
There may not be as much to learn about your characters in this scenario (aside from how angry they can get), but it is undeniably fun. First off, why are the two characters handcuffed together? An accident? A dare? A ‘precaution’? For best results, be sure that the two characters are as opposite as possible.
You can learn a lot about a character by having them spend time with children. Are they softies, or do they have a short fuse? Are they overprotective, or do they let the kids do as they please? Do they care for the children by remembering special tricks their parents used? Bonus if you can create a sweet mentoring scene.
Create a day for your character to honour their heritage. How do they celebrate? What is the traditional dress and diet? Do they sing liturgies or battle songs? This could be one way to develop the character’s world, if not set on earth. If set on earth, delving into a character’s background could be a great method for learning about some of the fascinating cultures of our world.
While I haven’t tried this one myself (yet), I have heard of other writers giving their creations an in-world visit. Usually this is done at a point of frustration, when the writer needs to give their ‘child’ a personal talking-to. But I think this is also an amusing indulgence of a writer’s curiosity of what their characters might think of them.
Already I’m getting ideas!
I can see Helena and Gertie in the sick scenario. Helena would be furious to have her evil plotting interrupted by undignified sneezing. Gertie, despite her terror of the evil princess, would still try to help by making chicken soup. If Gertie is sick and sneezing as well, I suppose there would be several fires breaking out.
Since Kinn is already a favourite of her little nephew, she’d do very well in the babysitting scenario. Reive on the other hand… not so much. He only sees children as a) nuisances, b) expendable allies for quick crimes.