fleshing out characters

I swear to the stars, Mr. Sheh is the greatest Creative Writing teacher ever. This is my second year in his class (hopefully, I’ll also be in his English class next year) and his current fancy is screenwriting. We recently completed outlines for 10-page-long screenplays with plans to continue work on them over the next few weeks.

I’m turning Bright Outside–or, at least, the idea I had for the opening scene–into a short that could potentially serve as the opening sequence to a feature-length film. I’m about to start work on the treatment for it. Meanwhile, my assignment is to write something outside of the script that characterizes the main character. (The example was the transcript of the dating profile video that incited the date that was the plot of Mr. Sheh’s screenplay.)

Wow. This is harder than it sounds, to be completely honest, because though I thought I knew everything about Zachery, I don’t. What do I write? One of his query letters? A blog post? His self-written author blurb from his 95,000 word manuscript? How the fuck do you characterize a character outside of their novel?!

I’m not asking you. I’m actually going to attempt to answer this apparently unsolvable question.

So who the hell is Zachery Fleming, anyway? 

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What’s in a pocket? That which can define a character
Would be revealed by a simple examination of their belongings.
(I am not Shakespeare, I know.)

I’ve decided to try and give some advice about making things up. This is also to help me, because I sometimes come up with things and forget them. So this first thingy is about fleshing out a character. I stole it from my Creative Writing class (my teacher probably stole it from some class he’d taken) and it was a prompt one day:

Make a list of the things in a character’s pocket (or purse, or sock drawer, or bedside drawer, or backpack, or whatever).

It’s a really handy way to give your character depth. Just thinking about what they’d keep in some strange compartment (and why) gives them another layer. Even an epic fantasy (imagine what Legolas keeps in his sock drawer!) or science fiction (what would you find in Ford Prefect’s pocket?) character can go through this: what’s at the bottom of their satchel, what odd objects float in their infinite space cube?

To start, I’m subjecting my character Cory Fraizer to this treatment. BELOW THE BREEAAK…

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