Thursday Writing Prompt No. 26

The Durango and Silverton locomotive pauses in Silverton to discharge passengers.

Today’s writing prompt is about characterization. In my novel’s opening chapters, I’m trying to work out some aspects of my main character’s personality and figure out what it is that actually motivates him. It’s not as easy as it sounds. In fact, it’s so involved that I can’t even explain it very well, which tells me that I haven’t figured him out yet. Maybe that’s a good thing, because it means that he’s potentially complicated enough to be an interesting guy.

I asked some friends on Scribophile for feedback on how emotional I should make my character. Since I’m a woman writing about a male character, I don’t want him to end up sounding like a teary teenage girl, but I also don’t want him to be an unresponsive, stoic male who endures everything without a peep. I was cautioned about stereotyping characters and told that figuring out the guy’s main motivations is going to be the key to writing him as a believable, feeling human being.

But that also gave me an idea for this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt. Take a character that you’ve written in one of your stories, or create a new one, and write a few paragraphs or a short story. Then give the character a gender swap and rewrite the piece. It might be an interesting experiment to see how your expectations of male/female behavior would impact the characters in your fiction.