I’m really enjoying reading The Kill Zone, a blog by and for mystery and thriller writers. On Sundays, James Scott Bell has articles that usually include at least one good writing exercise. Today there were several, but this one intrigued me the most:
A question Don likes to ask in his workshops is, “What is something your character would never ever do or say?” Then, find a place for the character do or say that thing. Or at least think it, showing a ferocious inner conflict. Wow. Try that some time and then pick up the pieces of your head.
I started thinking about what each of my characters would never do, and it was actually really revealing about each of them. You can’t define a square without edges, right? Seems I only ever plan out one edge. Finding the other edge of the square was highly interesting.
For example, take Eddie Valor. He’s a retired guitarist for a fantasy metal band (think Nightwish). He’s laid-back, easy going, sensitive, and almost never loses his temper. (Which is good, because the other characters all fall somewhere between C4 and nitroglycerin on the volatile explosive scale.) He’s the one person who doesn’t lose his cool in a crisis.
One thing he would never do is get angry enough to try to kill someone.
Another thing he’d never do is harm an instrument, especially a guitar.
Which makes me wonder what would have to happen to bring him to both of those points. Can you say ‘conflict’? 🙂