Our sugar addiction lies inside heart shaped boxes and if you’re a Minnesotan, you still leave 1 or 2 pieces to be polite even when no one else is going to look inside. We never take the last piece of cake or food in the frozen tundra. It’s like we’re worried our neighbors or mom are going to come over and check to see if we took the last piece.
Why am I talking about a box of Valentine Chocolates? Think about entering a 5 star chocolate shop and you get to pick the pieces that go inside. We’re going to build our characters the same way. Each piece needs to fit inside the heart. Some pieces are sugar coated and some are dark. Is your protagonist rich, sweet, and gooey? Or are they hard, dark, and stick to the teeth.
Believe it or not, we’re stretching our imagination and thinking outside the box with this exercise. Choose one food group or even the weather and write a few paragraphs about your characters. Using different kinds of words we don’t normally associate with character will open up your writing to new possibilities and help you mold them to the right temperature, richness, and flavor.
Characters can have candied, strawberry lips. Kisses can turn into sweet chocolate covered caramel or soft puffs of cotton candy. Bodies can twist like salt water taffy or suddenly break apart like peanut brittle. You know what I need right now in the below zero weather, a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Do you have anyone in your life who fits that description? No? Well, good thing your a writer who can imagine someone.
One more helpful tip is that if you use an exercise like this one, then you might want to create a list of metaphors or descriptions that relate to each character’s hobby or occupation. An artist, a photographer, or a chef will all think, see, and feel with a different sets of vocabulary. What kinds of words, conversations, and thoughts will occupy the gray matter of your character’s daily life? Details create a clear vision of character and help them stand on their own. The clearer the vision, the more your audience will connect.
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