Characters Workshop

Creating Heartbeats

Excerpt from the workshop materials

Flints Create Sparks.

Flints are ideas, things we come across in our everyday life. We just need to put a couple of these together to get a spark. It’s the same when we are creating an identity for a character.

Sometimes we overhear an argument between a couple at the airport or idly look in someone’s windows as we walk by their house, etc, only to see or hear something unexpected and not intended for public consumption, a stranger giving a guilty look when they realise they’ve been spotted with marijuana and rolling papers; a person you’ve never met in a partially dressed state – as if just nipping into the sitting room before returning back to the bedroom where their lover lays waiting. Next, we just need to add a few twists of fiction: a famous politician skinning up a joint, your friend’s partner in a state of unexpected undress in a house that isn’t theirs …

Sparks Create Fire.

When we read, we often identify with a universal truth in the story we are reading and this understanding, or belief, can be quite a hook. We like to know we are not the only ones out there who have experienced that. And, unlike a philosopher, a fiction writer is allowed to write something that does not have to be justified, yet can still say something which connects to the reader in a way that reassures and identifies. It lights the fire and is usually done through one of the characters.

We’ve already been introduced to lots of different stimulus and the workshop is still in its early stages. Let’s see if our mood has changed.


Free-write for five minutes, irrespective of the unconnected twaddle or perfect brilliance that surfaces, just keep going. . . make things up, tell the truth but change names, do anything you want, and remember, what happens in the workshop stays in the workshop, it is our sandpit.

No-one else will see this. I repeat: It’s your sand pit. Go build.

If you can’t think of anything right now or just plain fancy one of the other sentences, do it using one of the prompts . . .