Wednesday, May 5, 2021

In the May Insecure Writer's Support Group post I ask you to consider writing a small vignette for a character prior to including them in your next story and see how that goes.

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. Today is the first Wednesday of the month, and it's time for an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. The purpose of the Insecure Writer's Support group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! If this interests you, please sign up at this website HERE.

I usually answer the monthly question, but I'm skipping it this month. Instead I wanted to talk about a really fun writing experiment orchestrated by the players in my weekly Dungeons & Dragons group. I challenged my group to email me 400-500 word vignettes about their characters doing "a thing." Picture this as a slice of their character's lives, and you will have envisioned what I asked for perfectly. I told them that my intention was to read these out loud to the group, so if they send one in, they are to be prepared for others to hear what you have written.

The first one that emailed me was regarding a pirate character, and it was called "knife juggling." In the story, the lady's pirate character is having a romance with another in-game player (Lailata), but that character's player is courting "madness" by embracing Cthulhu-esque gods (Lailata is obsessed with the ancient power of the Great Old Ones). Captain Ava (the name of the pirate character), was simply out juggling knives in the morning (its an activity she does) outside their encampment deep within the hot jungles of a place called "The Island of the Snakes." It's a hostile and unforgiving land where dinosaurs and other things are roaming, and where danger is right around the corner. However, it is also a place that can suddenly surprise you with its astounding beauty.

Anyway, Captain Ava was juggling her knives and reminding herself that you should never catch a falling knife. And (of course) the romance with the character who is courting madness has become a bit of a "falling knife." But there is also the added problem of detaching oneself from a character like that, because "just maybe" there's enough there to keep them from spinning off into utter darkness. So, she kind of feels trapped in a relationship that is not as fulfilling as it used to be. Anyway, it was a very interesting read and the whole table enjoyed it.

I've had other snippets emailed to me. One character (who is having a romance with the hag Baba Yaga) wrote a dream about a world that he left behind, and how he now accepts people for who they are on the inside rather than their outward appearance. A third story I received was about a woman learning how to deep dive in the ocean, when the ocean came alive to show her how. A fourth story was about a paladin being taught how to gamble and play a game called Three Dragon Ante by a roguish sort that was about as direct opposite of a person as one can be from this paladin. The fifth story I got was about two royals who are betrothed to one another, eating pie, and figuring out that neither of them likes to eat cheese with pie.

I guess if there's anything I could say about these stories it's that we've all enjoyed them. However, they have also strengthened the connections each person had to their character, and they've made their  characters come alive in the minds of each other. As important as a plotline is to the integral part of writing fiction, I now feel like these "vignettes" could be a better way to flesh out a character even before you begin to include them in a larger story (like a novel or a series of novels). I also might suggest that if you are feeling stuck, to maybe crank out 400-500 words about a thing in the life of that character. Make it come alive by focusing in on a single small event in their lives. You never know where this exercise might lead you, or how it may affect your next writing project.

The awesome co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

Have a great day, everyone.


  1. Clever idea. You forced them to really think about their characters. And maybe prodded a budding writer in a process.

  2. Character building is my weaker skill, but I'm working on it. Your challenge sounds interesting.


  3. I've probably done something like that before. Even making Sims like I sometimes do can help

  4. Sounds like a great exercise.