#WriteAwayJune, #WriteWeMay, background character, challenge, character, character development, Fantasy, Fantasy Writers, fiction, June, main character, non-fiction, sci-fi, science fiction, villian, Writers, Writing, writing challenge
Last year I stumbled across a writing month challenge called “Write We May” on Twitter. The challenges were things like “post a picture of your work space,” and “post a picture of your writing juice,” so they weren’t as involved as daily writing prompts. I spent a couple days following the hashtag and “meeting” other writers and seeing how they worked and lived their writing lives. I was charmed by the comradery, and I was disappointed that I had found the challenge so late. I felt that joining in then, a good two weeks into the challenge, was cheating, as well as trying to catch up on all the challenges I missed. There was another problem: May was the last full month of school. As a teaching aide in a private school, I would be kept busy organizing end-of-year awards, parties, and paperwork, not just for my class, but for others as well. It was going to be hectic and stressful, and even though the challenges were relatively easy ones, my work at school was going to drain me. On the recommendation of a couple family members and friends, I took a weekend to design my own challenge for June.
The first #WriteAwayJune challenge was my third blog post on Blotted Ink, and though the post only got two views and one like, the challenge was more successful than I had hoped. A few personal friends, including one of my college writing teachers, participated, posting their completed challenges on Instagram and Facebook. I followed my hashtag religiously, liking any post that used it in hopes to encourage the people participating. Then I found strangers participating! They confessed they had no idea where the challenge had originated, but they had decided to join in the fun anyway. I was excited by this, even though there were still only ten people participating in the challenge over all. This year, I hope more people will take part in the challenge, even if the numbers only go up by two.
Last year, the #WriteAwayJune was a random conglomeration of challenges very similar to #WriteWeMay. I had things like “what’s your favorite pen” and “your favorite literary character,” things that I hoped would put writers in the mind to write. This year will be different. I have a theme to my challenge, something that will help writers develop their stories and advertise it. I tried to make this challenge something that any writer of any genre at any level can complete with whatever time they have. Writers can also do what they want with the challenge, completing it with a sentence, a short story, or a picture, with the ability to share it on all forms of social media.
The theme this year is “character.” The character can be your main character, side character, background character, villain, or minion—anyone in your story is fair game. Even the animal side kick. This doesn’t limit the challenge to fiction; even if you’re writing a memoir or a biography, the people you’re writing about are characters. If you’re writing about a real person, use this challenge to get to know them better, understand the world about them, and how they see them. Whether fiction or non, whether you use what you discover about your characters or not, it will help your writing.
The challenges should be self-explanatory, but if you need some ideas of where to take them, here’s my breakdown.
- Introduce your character.
- Start the month off by picking one of your characters and establish them as the focus for the month. Post a picture of the character (using your desired actor, a sketch, a commissioned piece of artwork, etc.), list their name, and some random tidbits about them, such as their job, hobbies, or what part they play in the story. If you have the time, feel free to write a character sketch or dialogue, and don’t forget to share it!
- Share a recipe your character enjoys
- Post a picture, post the entire recipe! If you’re writing historical or fantasy fiction, make sure you consider what ingredients might be available to your character. Make sure you follow #WriteAwayJune to find some recipes you might want to cook for yourself!
- Take the Meyers Briggs test as your character
- Is your chosen character an ENFP, ISTJ, INFJ, or an ESFP? Meyers Briggs may not be a psychologically/scientifically sound test, but it sure is fun to take! Follow the link http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp to take a free version of the test, and be sure to post the results!
- Explore your character’s world
- If you’re writing sci-fi or fantasy, this may seem a little easier, but historical, romance, and non-fiction writers should participate in this part of the challenge as well. If you’re writing from a historical standpoint, poke around and figure out what the trends were back then, the fashion, the foods, the politics. If you’re writing contemporary non-fiction, think about where your subject lives. What’s their apartment like? Are their neighbors obnoxious? What does their work environment look like? Is their boss a jerk? Everyone’s “world” is different, whether it’s imaginary or real. Share their world with the internet.
- Your character would sell their soul for…?
- Before you get too offended that your “perfect hero” (if hero you’re using) would sell their soul for anything, realize everyone has a weakness. Also realize that any devil worth their salt would target their prey at their most vulnerable point. If you still refuse to let your hero break, think about what would tempt them the most. The return of their loved one? World peace? Chocolate? There’s your answer. Now share it!
- Your character’s greatest fear
- Just as everyone has a weakness, everyone has a crippling fear. It could be something irrational, something psychological, or something physical. If you want to write a short bit showcasing this fear and how your character might deal with it, go for it! Or if you just want to post a picture or a scared emoji, that works too.
- What is a defining moment in your character’s life?
- What put your character on the path they’re on? Why did you character decide to do what they do? If you’re writing romance, why is your character attracted to the one they love? What makes your character who they are? Share it!
- How would your character react to being on a different world?
- I think this might be the most fun for someone writing non-fiction; you could actually ask the person, get their ideas on it, and then write how you think they’d ACTUALLY react. With fictional characters, they can react however and get comedic results. You could go a step further and pick the world they’re suddenly on, because that would possibly garner different reactions. Are they on Mars? Panem? Gallifrey? Narnia? Share your thoughts!
- Who is your character’s oldest friend?
- Whether they’re actually old or they’ve been friends the longest, take a moment to name a friend. If you want to go deeper into the challenge, examine the friendship. Why are they friends? How did they become friends? What kind of challenges does their friendship constantly face? Share the relationship on social media!
- What is your character’s motivation?
- Even a minor motivation such as “complete a 5k” can be powerful to a character. What drives them to keep going? What wakes them up each day? What are their goals? Do they want to rule the world, or do they just want a simple house in the country where they can raise their family in peace? Share it!
- Where is your character’s quiet place?
- Many people have a place where they go when their world gets too noisy. It doesn’t have to be a large location like Disney World; it could be as small as a homemade blanket, or as warm as a loved one. Where does your character go to find comfort? Write a description, create a moment, or draw a picture, and share it!
- Describe your character’s ideal day
- Does your character like rainy days when they can curl up by the fire and read? Or do they prefer a cold, snowy day so they can look out on a clean world? Or do they love a bright summer day when they can lounge at the beach or the pool and work on their tan? Perhaps it’s even April 25th, when all they need is a light jacket. Go the next step and spend the day with your character to see how they enjoy the weather, and don’t forget to share.
- What was your character’s favorite childhood toy?
- The character’s favorite toy can actually show a lot about their personality, as can why it’s favorite. Does your character have a favorite doll that their parent gave them before they went on deployment? Or do they keep that toy sword under their pillow at night to fight off monsters and nightmares. Perhaps their favorite toy is simply the newest, shiniest object on the shelf, or maybe it’s a forbidden toy belonging to a sibling? Share it!
- Complete a writing prompt using your character
- Find a writing prompt in a writing book, on social media, or on google that fits your character, and write at least 500 words about it. Then share it! Make sure you share the prompt and where you found it, then check out stories written by other challengers and give them a “like”!
- Write three different endings to the above prompt
- Explore your prompted story a bit more and try out some different endings. Try to make one tragic, one comedic, and one romantic. Shake up your style and explore an ending that’s outside of your paradigm. Have fun and share!
- Coffee, tea, or cocoa?
- What does your character like to drink, and how do they drink it? Do they like their coffee black, or with twelve lumps of sugar and seven creams? Is their tea loose-leafed, or bagged? Do they drink their cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles? Instagram it!
- Write a Father’s Day card for your character’s father
- In honor of the holiday, honor your character’s father! It can be a standard Hallmark greeting, it can be an e-card, or it can be a snarky poem filled with sarcastic remarks about their father’s inept care. Whether the father was caring, evil, or non-existent, write up a fitting card and share it!
- What is your character’s pet peeve?
- What drives your character up the wall? Do they hate the sound of nails on chalkboard? Do they hate the sight of a full kitchen sink? Or do they hate when someone fiddles with decorations thoughtlessly? And who is the most frequent culprit that commits these heinous crimes? Share the peeves on social media!
- Describe a day in your character’s life
- When do they get up? What do they have for breakfast? What’s their morning routine? What are their habits and rituals? It might be boring and tedious, but really think about it—especially if they’re students! What classes might they have to suffer through? Share their schedule, and feel free to compare it with others!
- It’s your character’s birthday; how do they celebrate?
- Do they throw themselves a big party, or do they prefer a quiet celebration at home? What kind of cake and ice cream would they want? Who would they want in attendance? Tell us about it!
- Your character’s favorite hobby?
- A character can have many hobbies outside of their job, destiny, or duties. Do they like knitting? Cooking? Scrapbooking? Sparring? Hiking? Feel free to explore a few, figure out their competence level on each, and then declare the favorite!
- What is your character’s least favorite chore?
- What chores does your character have? Is it their job to clean the bathroom? Do they have to pluck and behead the chickens? Or do they have to spend the hottest part of the day outside plucking weeds? Which menial task do they detest? Share it!
- What does your character wear on and off duty?
- Think about your character’s profession and how they would dress for it. Are they required to wear a suit, or do they have to wear an unappealing fast food uniform? Then think about their homelife and their personalities to figure out how they relax. Do they just need a hoodie and a warm blanket? Share it!
- What does your character look for in a friend?
- Do they like the fun, party animals that keep life lively, or does your character prefer a quiet listener? Does your character enjoy being friends with a venomous person, or do they prefer to be with uplifting angels? Beyond that, do they look for someone with the same tastes in movies and music, or do they look for someone to push them out of their comfort zones and try something new? Share their list of requirements!
- How does your character sleep?
- Is your character diurnal, or nocturnal? Do they sleep on their back, side, or stomach? How long can your character go without sleep? How much sleep do they need to function properly? Is your character a lucid dreamer, do they dream, or is their sleep an unconscious void? Can they sleep without a blanket or pillow? Do they have a favorite animal they sleep with, or do they sleep with a weapon under their pillow? Think of all the detail you can and write them down, then share them!
- How does your character react to losing?
- Are they a sore loser, or are they used to losing? Are they prone to table flipping, throwing things against the wall, and getting physically violent, or do they just sigh and sit back in their seat? Do they even accept losing, or will they somehow cheat their way to victory? Will they force a rematch so the loss doesn’t count? What game or event does your character lose the worst at? Share it!
- What is your character’s favorite book?
- If your character is fortunate enough to live on a world with books, what is their favorite? If your character is unfortunate enough to live in a bookless world, or is illiterate, what is their favorite story? Who is their favorite bard or storyteller? Is there a hero they aspire to be? Does their world have unique stories and tales? Share a synopsis of one of these tales, or share a synopsis or teaser of your non-fiction character’s favorite!
- Your character is granted 3 wishes; what are they?
- Maybe they stumbled upon a genie/djinn. Maybe they found a magic wishing rock. Maybe they found a wishing well that actually works, and they got three wishes, what would they be? Would they wish for peace, riches, and wealth? Would they wish for the power to control time and space? Would they wish for health, youth, and everlasting life? Would it make them happy? Write the whole story, or simple list the wishes, and share it!
- How does your character deal with tragedy?
- This is different than simply losing a game or a challenge; tragedy is more potent, dealing with the extreme loss of something beloved. A meteor fell on your character’s hometown, slaughtering everyone they knew and loved. Do they go numb for days, months, years? Do they scream and cry and rage against the cruel world? Do they seek revenge? Do they go insane with denial? Share their reaction!
- Create a quote graphic for your character
- Pick your favorite or the most potent quote said by or about your chosen character and show it off. Create a background using paint, photoshop, or your own sketchbook, and share the picture on social media.
Congratulations! You’ve completed the #WriteAwayJune challenge for 2018! I hope you had fun, and that you were able to get to know your character better. I also hope you took the opportunity to search out and encourage other writers who were participating in the challenge. If you’re not a regular follower of my blog, then I hope you’ll follow me now, but if not, please do come back next year for another #WriteAwayJune. Thanks for participating!