Writing Prompt: Someone That You Used To Know

Written by Emily Harstone | June 13, 2013

Sometimes it is hard to create characters from scratch, sometimes you just need a starting point. That is why a lot of authors include fictionalized versions of their family members in novels. However sometimes it hard to write honestly and with perspective about someone you know.

This exercise is an easy way to create a character, and even if you never use that character again, you still will have discovered new ideas and a new technique for character creation.

Think back to your childhood or to your early adulthood and think of someone that you knew then. It should be someone that you used to be close to, but no longer keep in touch with. It could be someone who moved away, an ex, or maybe a friend who transferred to another college.

Based on the person you used to know, create a character. This character should be living an imagined life, the life they ended up leading after you lost touch with them. You can try and make this life as realistic as possible or you can base it off their hopes and dreams at the time.

For five minutes think about this person and this future life you cooked up for them. You can jot down notes, but don’t focus on the writing, focus on the person.

Then when the five minutes of imagining are up, create a a new name for them. Then write a piece featuring this character, it can involve anything in their imagined life. It could be what their day is like, what it is like for them when their first child is born, anything you want.

Write for no more then 15 minutes. By then you should have an even better sense of this character and if they would work out in your imagined universe.

It is a fun writing exercise that may turn out to be useful if you decide this character would work in a short story or a novel.