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How To Keep Writing Activity 1: Doodling

Jennifer is a writer, editor, feminist, and Potterhead. She also loves her cat and studying cat behavior.

Doodling is the perfect way to start exposition and character development. As you draw, your mind wants to come up with reasons those little shapes exist.

Is this going to be pastoral? A family portrait? Architecture? Is it day or night? Are the shapes aware of their surroundings? Is there personification?

All of these little questions build until a scene is set up. That’s the birth of exposition.

My Doodle

Below is a doodle I scribbled. This is Fredonia. Doesn't that sound exotic or French-sounding name?

Her scarf is the first thing I drew. It’s flowing behind her as she angles her head for the camera. I drew her head and hair, and then her eyes were next. Because eyes are symmetrical, I copied and pasted her second eye right next to the first one. Then I scribbled a clothing-covered body so that her head wasn't floating in the air.

Her shoulders are slumped, so I'm going to say she's a 13-year-old who was just told by her older brother to go home for supper. She gave him an attitude--and a dirty look over her shoulder--as she flounced off.

Fredonia the French Model

Fredonia the French Model

Character Development Sheet

So I have a name and a posture. Character development has started!

See below for more things to keep in mind for character development:

Simple Character Development Sheet

Simple Character Development Sheet

As you can probably imagine, the questions we ask as we develop our characters can go on forever. Answering one will just open the door to even more questions, answers, and discoveries about your character.

It’s always a good idea to come up with even a basic character development/details sheet before writing this character into a story. If they are going to be a round character (one that grows and develops as the story goes) rather than a static character (one whose personality changes very little if at all), then you will need to know enough about them to write them into a story.

Plotlines Grow

I’ve found that as I learn what kind of person I’m building, a plotline will form simply because certain kinds of people will do certain kinds of things. This is called staying in character. As you learn about the person you are creating, you'll learn of things that then out of character for them to say or feel or do as well.

It’s a rare creature indeed that you’re going to see an arm amputee have an occupation as a hairdresser unless they have an awesome prosthetic....Oh! A hairdresser with a prosthetic! Who has a secret! BAM. Main character material. See? More characterization!

But then their personality will help you decide if a hairdresser is still something that they would do. Are they outgoing and love to chat? Just love hair no matter how much they talk? As you doodle, it'll come to you; trust me.

Exposition Development Details

  • What is your main character’s usual routine?
  • Who does your main character see or hang out with on a day-to-day basis?
  • What was happening when your character’s usual routine was interrupted?

The first and second points are the exposition. The third is the reason this book was written.

BAM. Plotline. There are few books about normal routines. Unless it’s exotic for the person reading it or it’s the journal of a long-dead person of interest, the whole point of a story line is for the routine to go wrong, or for the story being told to be extraordinary.

By knowing your character inside and out, you’ll easily be able to come up with more ideas for exposition and plot development as well.

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Let's take a look at what you've been doodling.

  • Does your doodle have a name? Does the name have any significance for what the doodle might be? Is the name more common in a certain part of the world? Is it just a nickname? Do we ever get to know the doodle's real name? Is this relevant to whatever story you might be writing?
  • Does your doodle have identifiable features that suggest mood or personality? Posture? Smile? Frown?
  • Does your doodle have color? Is there any significance to the color?
  • What is your doodle wearing, if anything? Does it suggest class or social status? Is your doodle out on a fancy date? Just going to the library?
  • Does your doodle have an age? Or at least an age group you'll be writing for?

All of these can be clues that you'll see just by glimpsing at your doodle for a couple of minutes, or as you doodle it. And guess what; they're all important to your story.

Even if all you do to answer one of the questions is to say, "No, my doodle is not in color, and this is not significant to my story," that helps you move on to what else you need to know about your character. The best part? Just the fact that you've answered it will keep it in the back of your mind for future reference if it ever does become relevant.

These questions also help you decide if you're going to make them a main character, a side character, or just a character met in passing.

Good Luck!

Please comment below on different characters you've doodled into life. I'd love to hear about them! =)

Do you have other ideas for character development that you've used and find to be key to a character's success? Please share that below as well! I am always looking to improve how I write.

And Good Luck!

Please Let Me Know! =)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Jennifer Kessner


Jennifer Kessner (author) from Pennsylvania on October 15, 2012:

Thanks! =)

Eiddwen from Wales on October 15, 2012:

Originla and interesting ;great work here and I now look forward to many more.


Jennifer Kessner (author) from Pennsylvania on August 31, 2012:

Thanks so much, Joy! =) I write to relate. Embrace all of your doodling; it's keeping your brain active! (and most likely, it's keeping you sane.)

No, I have not seen Confessions of a Shop-a-Holic. I tried to read the book but couldn't do it. XD Perhaps I'll re-add it to my list? Good luck with everything, and thanks for reading and commenting. =)

Joy56 on August 30, 2012:

Every now and again i meet a writer that i can relate to one hundred per cent..... And it is your turn today. My pages are full of doodles, i always condemn myself for so much scribble..... You have given me the permission to enjoy my doodling...... and use them to good effect.

Did you see the film..... Confessions Of A Shop A Holic...... She was a writer or sorts. Her editor gave her the name..... The Girl With The Green Scarf..... Your doodling took me back to that film. Lovely Hub.

Jennifer Kessner (author) from Pennsylvania on June 20, 2012:

Sure thing! =) I hope these give your brain more ideas and help to keep your muse going. Thanks for the comment!

myownlife from london on June 20, 2012:

Thanks to share those brilliant ideas, it certainly can help the new hubbers like me. Thanks again,

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