Exercise 8: Character Thesis Statement Method

An interesting character is the engine of a good story.  Everything else – setting, plot, and cool concepts – exist to reveal or character your protagonist.  Readers experience the story through the prism of how that character experience the story through the prism of how the character.

Character-Lineup

Check out Serious Comic for the details behind this image.

One interesting troupe is to start a story with a thesis statement about the character that serves as a starting point.

240px-Eustace
Haters gotta hate!

C.S. Lewis started The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with the immortal line: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a story about how Eustace is changed and redeemed by his experiences in Narnia.  He slowly transforms from a complete ass that ignores the feelings of others to a boy who finally realizes that he’s not the center of the universe.

The “Character Thesis Statement Method” requires that you start the story making some sort of statement about your protagonist character or something general about how characters in that world behave.

Jane Austen started  Pride and Prejudice with the following line that said everything the reader needed to know about the book and the characters that live that world: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

This exercise requires that you have completed the following Creative Writing Exercises:

Objective: Write an opening sentence using “The Character Thesis Statement Method” model to reveal a character.

Exercise

  1. Review work from previous exercises for inspiration
  2. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
  3. Write down as many opening lines using the “The Sort of Character That…” method.

Example

I worked broadly using this approach and these were my initial examples:

  • Jeffrey Davis was the second most feared food critic in Seattle. Tony Giuliani was feared the most, but then he once stabbed a waiter with a shrimp fork for getting hair in his soup.
  • The first lesson that Eve had learned as an artist was that symmetry was beauty.
  • Jessie Williams definitely felt betrayed by the movies. There was supposed to be magic in the world; magic in her love life if she waited long enough.
  • Rooster Brown enjoyed a good bar fight, but he had to admit that it was usually a lot more fun when he won.
  • As a rule, Captain Mia Wells did not accept slaves or animals as cargo onboard the Phoenix.  Her conscience would not accept the former and her nose would not tolerate the latter.

Review

This method helps me get started when I feel lost about a story.  Sometimes the right line created by this method can alter the tone of the story in my mind and give me a fresh perspective.

Did you enjoy this exercise?  Trying another one on the Creative Writing Exercises page.

If you would like to read more about the Heller Mysteries, then I’d recommend checking out the following megapack.


Dark Inheritance: A Collection of Heller Mysteries

The Heller family has a sacred secret passed along from generation to generation.   During the Battle of Hastings, Jørgen Hellyer fought for William the Conqueror at Battle Abbey. His unknown deeds that night brought forth a curse upon all of his descendants. Unto each generation of the Hellyer lineage comes a champion that must face a trial of darkness and blood. Some rise to the challenge and become heroes destined to fight against evil until they die alone. Others fall to the hunger of their corrupt souls.  The Heller Mysteries were created and written by Jason Andrew. Read the stories that chronicle generations of the Heller family facing the true terrors that haunt the world.

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