Take a peek into my character’s mind with a writing exercise

As writers, we have to get into our characters’ heads and figure out not just about their basic traits (physical description, vocation, dog or cat lover?), but also their more complex aspects like deepest desires, philosophies, and what makes them tick. There are several ways to do this: interview them, do a hobby they enjoy doing, write a series of diary entries as your character. I came across this excellent blog post by Sarah Fox, “Six Ways To Get Into Your Characters Head.”

As an exercise in getting into my character’s head, I wrote a Facebook rant from my character’s POV. It was very liberating, getting to see what makes my character tick and there were a few surprising revelations about her along the way.

I know which of my novels to place this main character in (I outlined it months ago, and now it’s simmering in my Evernote file!). Yet due to all the other writing projects I’m managing currently, I don’t feel comfortable divulging details about this novel just yet. Only, I will say that two things: (1) this is the first time I’m mentioning this project on a platform, and (2) it’s in the dystopia genre.

The following is my character’s blog post. Enjoy!

***I get this a lot, about how I’m quiet, shy, withdrawn, unable to stand up for myself. For years and years and years, I hear this same grating garbage and about how, if I were to be a success in life and this world I should be more extroverted, louder, “make some noise,” not be so shy …

Pay attention: I have been through my misery in life. I’ve had my share of happiness, depression, pain, and everything else in between. I have been through experiences that some people, I truly expect, to not believe I could have gone through because, in some form, I’m such a quiet mouse that my rock bottom was when I burn the family dinner, getting a speeding ticket, or …

Maybe the problem isn’t that I’m too quiet; maybe the problem is that you’re too hard of hearing/critical/not paying attention/fill in the blank. And don’t give me that bull about how if I had spoken up about my problems, I’d get more attention and help. If I want to speak up, I’ll speak up. I have spoken up many, many times, but perhaps I didn’t choose you to say anything to because I can’t trust you with my grievances. The reason I’m so quiet is that I don’t have to say anything to justify my own emotions or thoughts. If this rant comes as a surprise to you, remember, it was your expectations of me to act like a quiet mouse that is your problem, not mine.

Oh, surprised or disturbed by this post? Can’t comprehend how I have gone off the deep end? Then do one of three things:

1) Facebook installed an unfriend button for a reason. Use it.

2) Simply react to this post with the laughing emoji:-P

3) Or as I expect, ignore this post altogether.***

So, as the author, what did I learn about my character from this exercise?

1) She’s a firecracker waiting to explode. A very angry one at that.

2) She feels ignored, unwanted, unloved. She says she has spoken upon many different occasions (as to what, I don’t know yet).

3) She acknowledges that her Facebook post will not be paid attention to, but nevertheless, she feels comfortable expressing her thoughts on a public (and worldwide!) forum because it’s like screaming into the void for her.

As I continue to develop this novel, I know I will get more acquainted with this character, and I’m sure to find plenty more surprises about her. In the meantime, this exercise for getting into my character’s mind was an excellent start.

Teresa Edmond-Sargeant is an award-winning journalist and author. She released her first collection of short stories “Inner Demons” in October 2020. She is the author of the short story ebooks “Eve the First,” “For My Sister,” and “Sammy’s Butterflies.” She will release her debut novel “ Warding Off Reality” in August 2021.In her spare time she enjoys reading, shopping, traveling, working out, volunteering, and filling her mind with useless factoids worthy of pop culture trivia games.