Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Writing Excercise: Horror Style!

This looked like fun it could be a bit of Halloween Fun soI pulled it off the net...my comments are in italics.

Instructions: If you want to play around with developing character without taking the plunge of building fictional people from scratch--if, for example, you want to learn about character-building but aren't ready to start writing a story--a good source of names can help. The phone book is one, but it has no other details. In this exercise, we'll use a cemetery as a place to find the beginnings of interesting characters.

1. Find a cemetery near your home and go there with a notebook and pen. Really old cemeteries are often the most interesting, especially if you're into historical fiction.
( Google is great for this too )

2. Wander around and look at the names and dates on the headstones. Read any inscriptions you find. If you find any really intriguing names, jot them down in your notebook.
( I found my name once...Anita Marie Godfrey...no kidding, freaked me OUT! )

3. Find a good place to sit and write. If you've written down some names and dates and inscriptions, you may want to go home or to the library to write. If it's a nice day and there are places to sit, you may want to write in the cemetery itself.

( Nah, no one will think you're being a ghoul, but if its not a place you want to be don't go! )

4. Choose a name and think about what that person might have been like. When did they live and how old were they when they died? If there was an inscription on the headstone, how might it relate to the person's character? Perhaps a tombstone might say "In memory of a loving mother." Was the character you're creating in your mind really a good mother, or might her children have chosen those words in order to keep up appearances? Were any other family members buried nearby? How might their lives have touched your chosen person's life?

5. When you're beginning to get a good idea of what your character might have been like, write about them. You might choose to write a short biography, or maybe you'd rather put your character in a scene and see how they might act. Remember, you're not trying to figure out who this person really was; instead, you're creating a character based on a name and some dates, and maybe an inscription. The character will be made up based on what ideas that name and dates and inscription create in your mind.

Notes: This exercise is similar to the idea of making up lives for the people you see in public places. Instead of seeing a person for whom you can make up a name and other details, though, you have no idea what the person looked or acted like; you have only a name to go on. This is meant to be a fun way to exercise your imagination and learn a little bit about how characters can be made to seem real. And who knows, you might learn some local history in the process.


Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas,
Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please.
Joseph Conrad
(St. Thomas Church; Canterbury, England)

Good Night Sweet Prince
and a flight of angels sing to thy rest.
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

As the flowers are all made sweeter
by the sunshine and the dew,
so this old world is made brighter
by the lives
of folks like you.
Bonnie Parker
(Crown Hill Cemetery; Dallas, Texas)

Here lies
Ezekial Aikle
Age 102
The Good
Die Young.

Hillaire Belloc (1870-1953)
Here richly, with ridiculous display,
The Politician's corpse was laid away.
While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged,
I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged

Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York
Looked up the elevator shaft to see if
the car was on the way down. It was.

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