February 24th, 2011


In Which We Meet A Stranger

Or, Stranger Than Fiction


James Mowbry.

Thassright. FK has a name.

He also has a profile, thanks to the character sketch I done up as per TWN. I have also nailed down sketches for a helper character and romantic interest and have ideas for antagonist type people to . . . well, antagonize the protags like a really nasty, but totally awesome, game of Dodge Ball.

The character sketch for TWN is comprehensive and helps you get into the head of your character.

What’s that? You have no idea who your characters are or are going to be?

That’s the beauty of TWN. You can still use the sketch (if you’re Word or Excel savvy, you can make a table template and make copies to carry with you in your handy-dandy writer’s notebook that you have with you at all times. Right? Right?


It’s an exercise called Stranger In A Room, and entails taking the Notebook Of A Thousand Imaginings, or your homemade Character Sketch Worksheets to a public place like a park or, if you’re anything like the Writer Monkey, a coffee shop, and eavesdropping on your neighbors. When someone grabs your attention—something in their voice, the way they dress or move, you fill out the sketch based on what you see and what you imagine that person being like IRL, what their story is. Before you know it, a character begins to take shape. Even if you don’t end up using that particular sketch for your current project—heck, even if you don’t even have a current project at the moment, it’s still a great exercise. Use it in the lunch room at work on your lunch hour, or in the courtyard where people congregate to smoke. Smokers naturally attract other smokers, and they’re fun to watch as they socialize or not. Bars are also full of really great characters to watch. That’s another favorite WM hangout, as that is also where banana daiquiris tend to congregate.

So I did both, just to see how it worked in both situations. 

For FK, since I already had a fairly good idea of what he was like based on my plot work, I used my notes in conjunction with the sketch in order to flesh him out. Details for the character sketch are available on TWN website/blog, thusly:


Just a few of my notes:

FK is of medium height and weight, aged 30, with dark brown hair and eyes. His clothes are simple but well-made in neutral, somber tones—he doesn’t have much color in his life. The only jewelry he owns is a family signet ring he wears on a chain around his neck. He was born in the small town of Afton, oldest of two sons, well-off but not rich. He is now returning home to claim his inheritance.

Hardship and an outdoor life have made him a little ragged around the edges. His fatal flaw is he tries so hard to do the right thing, to live up to the expectations of his family and knighthood, but some of his rash actions cause pain and suffering to others. Also, he has really rotten luck.

His mind is intelligent, generous, but shies away from getting too close to people. He is weary with guilt and secrets.

He has horrible posture. He slumps, hunches, leans with closed off nonverbal signals. Despite this he is strangely graceful with a rangy build: Lithe muscle, long limbs. He’s a natural hunter.

He likes to be wherever people are and he can blend in, unnoticed, pretending he’s a part of life while remains on the outskirts. He rides a temperamental war stallion who doesn’t get along with anyone else.

The object associated with him is a ship, symbolizing his character arc from hopeful to broken to whole again, if a little worse for wear.


Next Time:  Stranger In A Room, and Character Conflict