The Writing Reader, a blog that focuses on creativity prompts for writers, journalers, artists and speakers, offered a great prompt for helping fiction authors get to know their characters better.
To what or whom would your protagonist turn in a chaotic time? Why?
I went back through a few of my novels to see if I could answer that question
|Chicken noodle soup - the ultimate comfort food?|
Admittedly, this version looks a lot better than the
batch I made last week! Source: Wikimedia Commons
That strikes me as being entirely unfair. One of my goals for future manuscripts is to pay more attention to my heroes' emotional needs. ;-)
Another interesting way to use this prompt might be to turn it around a little bit: Who or what would your antagonist turn to in times of trouble?
I'm sure I've seen this in stories where the antagonist turns to someone they think is their friend, only to say something that gives away their evil intent. Or, it might be a vice that gives them comfort, e.g., gambling, that gives the protagonist a way to get the upper hand. Both of these sound terribly cliché when written in a blog post, but even the most clichéd story angles can come alive in a skillful author's hands.
I am going to have to think about this for my latest manuscript. I have an antagonist who, at least in these early stages, is coming across a bit flat. Knowing where he would find comfort could add some much-needed dimensionality to his character. The great thing about my characters is that they eventually tell me who they are, and I suspect this one will be no different. But, a little prompting never hurts!