I tried this writing exercise back in college. It helped me sum up what my story was about and what my main character intended. Writing to another character in the voice of the main character helped me figure out how she would say something and the reasons she was saying what she did. It also put me into the mind of her for when I wrote later on.
We have been best friends for quite some time now. I know that I can tell you anything. That’s why I come to you now. This is very hard for me to tell you. I’ve been keeping it bottled inside for a couple of months now. I’ve been waiting to tell you what happened as soon as it started, but I feared for your life as well as mine.
Max and I have had a couple of arguments. Most of them about the friendship I share with you. He is very jealous, and because of this jealousy, I have suffered. Travis, Max beats me. The first couple of times weren’t bad, but the other night, I suffered tremendously. It was the night that you and I had coffee. When we studied for our literature test. I went home and found him waiting for me on the front porch. When I pulled in the driveway, I knew that something bad was going to happen. He had found out.
He jumped into the car with me and told me to drive. I was so scared. I did as he said. I drove us to a deserted place. I was afraid he would kill me. Travis, he was yelling at me like I’d never heard him yell before. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t fight back. I had no chance against him.
When we got there, he pulled me out of the car and threw me onto the ground. I prayed that God would spare my life. I won’t give you all the details, but needless to say, I had never been hurt like that before. After a while, he drove me home and told me not to tell anyone the truth; that what happened was I fell down some stairs.
I’m scared, Travis. I don’t know what to do. I know that once he finds out that I’ve told you it will mean trouble for the both of us. This is probably a mistake, but I’m frightened. Please help me.
Now, this was written three years ago, and my writing has improved since this letter. (I did edit it some, but it pains me to leave it mostly as it is for demonstration purposes. I’m also sure that someone could break it down as a “What Not To Do in Your Writing” post.)
Characters are a very important part to our stories. They deserve a lot of attention, and flat characters just aren’t interesting. I recently read “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen. I liked her main character Jacob and even the other characters of the book were interesting, but Marlena, the character Jacob falls for, she’s boring. In a review on Goodreads I read about it, someone said that she was a flat character, and she couldn’t believe that Jacob fell for her. That’s very true. She was flat, and if it wasn’t for Jacob being as interesting and also the page turner affect it had on me, I would’ve put it down.
The point being, characters are important to our stories, and whether we know their background or develop it along the way as we write, we still need to get into that character’s mind and write like they would, not like we would.
I’m very different from my character, Taylor, in this short story. You can’t tell from the letter, but she’s not at all what she seems. She’s kind of disturbed, but I still managed to get into her head. And believe it or not, this helped me out tremendously. My teacher knew what he was talking about. 😉
Enjoy my mad drawing skills 😛
(I googled the above picture but drew this last one. It’s supposed to be Travis reading the letter. Just thought I’d have a little fun with it.)