top of page

Five-minute build-a-character challenge

Best-selling author and MMW member Diane Hammond created this wonderful exercise for everyone.

Do this VERY QUICKLY. Hear the answers in your head and write them down. Do NOT have a character in mind. By the end of the exercise, you’ll have stumbled on one.

1) Choose a sex.

2) Choose an age.

3) Choose three generic descriptive traits (height, hair color, eye color, etc.).

4) Now complete this sentence FAST: He/she looked as if . . . .

Example: his fingernails were never quite clean Example: she’d just stepped out of a high wind Example: she’d brought a small town to the big city 5) Complete this sentence FAST: At a birthday party, he/she is likely to:

Example: . . . make an inappropriate birthday wish on behalf of the birthday boy Example: . . . presume to help the birthday girl blow out the candles Example: . . . bring the biggest and best damned gift every time

6) Now put it all together. Can you see the beginning of an interesting character? Could you take this character out to dinner? Who might go out to dinner with him/her, anyway—if anyone? What kind of restaurant?


23 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

Five-Minute Fiction

Five-Minute Fiction: Who’s Talking? The challenge: In five minutes or less, using only dialogue and situational description, create two characters, suggesting age and sex, without giving away visual c

Five Minute Fiction

From bestselling author and MMW member, Diane Hammond The seminal power of what-if’s Great ideas for new fiction can come from anywhere. Sometimes those ideas can come from idly considering “what-if’s

1 Comment

This build-a-character exercise already helped me with an essay (memoir based) I’ve been assigned. It helps take the fear away from writing those first few words on a blank piece of paper by distracting those thoughts so you develop something you can use!

Thanks for a push in the right direction!!

bottom of page