Prepared by: Florence Cardinal
Posted on: Sat, 30 Aug 2003
Reposted on: Sun, 18 Jul 2004
This is a characterization exercise. Take
a story with a strong lead
character - something other people are going to know. Now tell that
from the viewpoint of some other character in the story.
The goal of this exercise is to help you
with character development.
Remember, all the people in your story should have a reason for the
they do, not just the main character or characters. Seeing the way all
people view things can help create a richer, more realistic, story. The
stories have the characters, good and bad, acting for clear reasons of
own, based on their own views of what should happen - and the
and conflicts between these provides narrative tension.
SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT WE HAVE IN MIND:
How would Rhett Butler or Melanie Wilkes
see Scarlet O'Hara in Gone
Wind? How about Mammy? What did she really think? Want to really
your imagination? Get into the mind of an animal. Maybe tell the story
"The Old Man and the Sea" from the viewpoint of the fish.
Stephen King does a great job of this in
his book Cujo when he takes
the mind of the dog and we watch his thoughts as he goes mad.
books, like Black Beauty or Bambi also do this. What is going through
mind of Old Yeller as he is stricken with rabies?
Some writers have already rewritten a
known work from another point
Tom Stoppard, in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" showed us
through the eyes of two minor characters. Recently Alice Randall, in
Wind Done Gone" retold Gone With The Wind from a black perspective.
This week, tell us the name of the story
you have chosen and who
viewpoint character is. Then, in 500 words or less, let us hear the
side of the story
Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: September 9, 2003
This turned out to be a great exercise, as
it was the last time we
ran it. The
majority of the stories were well written and fulfilled the assignment
Some of you forgot to tell us what story you were using, but I was able
figure them all out - and this shows just how well done they were.
We had fairy tales, stories from the
classics, and, what surprised
me were the
number of stories that came from Biblical sources.
The purpose of this exercise was to show
that, although your main
is the most important person in the story when it comes to
goal/motivation/conflict, every character has a personal viewpoint,
agenda, even lesser characters. Keeping this in mind adds a lot to
stories and even more to novels.
I enjoyed reading both the stories and
critiques. Well done.
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.