Something Useful for 2014 - Exercise No. 4

Today's exercise is about character building. When I begin to write a play, one of my foundation stones is always my cast of characters. It is only when I have them firmly imagined that I begin to build a plot around them.

1. Find two photographs of people whom you feel you can build a character from. These can be your own photographs, images from a newspaper or magazine, or photographs you find online. Here are my two:

2. Name your characters and give them some details such as age, job, and some characteristics. Again, here are mine.

Stan - in the top photo, he is the young man whose face is partly obscured by the woman in the pink top. He's 25 years old and works in a record shop. His friends persuaded him to go on an 18-30 holiday where they met the girls at the table with them. Stan lives at home with his mum who constantly nags him to improve himself. He's shy and generally hides himself away, even from customers to the shop.

Doreen - in the bottom photo, Doreen is the glamorous lady on the left. She's a retired actress, living alone except for her three poodles. She's a widow. Her husband was a policeman and his pension combined with hers keeps her afloat. She has a penchant for lovely clothes and sparkly jewellery. 

3. Find a way to bring your characters together.

Just back from his holiday with a tan and a spring in his step, Stan returns to the record shop. The manager (actually, the only other member of staff) leaves him to cope on his own while he goes to a record market. Stan settles back into his routine of playing records from his teen years and reading Sci Fi magazines. 

A man rushes into the shop with 3 poodles yapping at his heels. He says an old lady has collapsed on the path outside and asks if they can bring her into the shop until the ambulance arrives. Stan agrees. The old lady is Doreen. She's only had a fall and is fine really but the concerned man insists she waits until the ambulance arrives. Once the ambulance has checked Doreen over and declared that she is healthy, the helpful man hands her back her poodles and leaves.

The manager returns and lends Stan his car keys so he can drive Doreen home. 

Who will your characters be and how will they meet?


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