Workout: Character Sketch 1.0

What We Did

Reorganization of our structure at The Writers’ Block has freed us up to focus on internal projects, including a reprise of the Writers’ Workout that we launched yesterday, with great success. We had a full room in chat and in voice, with seven submissions that our participants analyzed in real-time discussion. Every skill level was represented, from beginner to mastery of the exercise.

The topic for yesterday’s exercise was character development. In advance, we asked participants to write 250 words or fewer about any character they chose, avoiding exposition and backstory. A good character sketch should give the reader enough information to form an opinion about the character, to understand the character’s wants and goals, and to glimpse or predict what challenges that character might face in obtaining them.

What We’ll Do Next

The exercise was so successful and so well-received that we’ve scheduled another exercise for Wednesday, July 11, at 3:00 p.m. EDT.. Once again, everyone is asked to write 250 words (or fewer) of a narrative-style character sketch and be ready to present it in text chat. We’re excited to see what our writers produce after attending the first workshop!

Why We’re Doing It

Short fiction presents an array of challenges. The writer has to convey maximum information with minimum words, which places an intense focus on word choice and word economy. It teaches a level of discipline that’s critical for longer works and gives editors a chance to place intense scrutiny on the mechanics of the writing.

Voice is extremely important, particularly in fiction. Many green writers express concern about “losing their voice” as a result of learning proper mechanics. Proper workshopping enhances voice, rather than destroys it. True voice can’t emerge until a writer understands how to place every word on the page for maximum effect. Exercises like the ones we’re doing in Workout are specifically designed to give each writer the tools and understanding they need to master their own voice and unique style.

How You Can Do It With Us

Block members have only to check the Writers’ Workout channel in our Discord to get more information. If you haven’t visited the Block yet, all you have to do is click the animated logo below and that will drop you into our Welcome Center. Our hosts will ask you some questions, so tell them you’re there to participate in the Workouts. Once you have honorary member status, you will be able to interact with others in the Discord.

So get those character sketches ready!

Leave a Reply