insects sting

“Insects sting, not in malice, but because they want to live” Friedrich Nietzsche This is true about some people, making life poignant and circumstances precarious.  photo: Jon Sullivan If you want to render your characters with nuance, you might ask in what way they resemble insects. Complexity can be created in the simplest ways. Writing Prompt: Select an … Continue reading insects sting

origins of belief

Quarrelsome characters make stories interesting and unpredictable. And origin shapes perspective.    photo Steve Hillebrand U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Here is a docked research ship. Create two scientists with distinctive, opposing belief systems, and put them on the ship. Now show them in an interaction that is shaped by the friction between their perspectives. One grew up … Continue reading origins of belief


Every character has a unique world view. For whom is this paradise?  photo: Al Crane, US Fish & Wildlife and this? Writing Prompt: In 50 words each, create two characters, one from each photograph. Then, using a maximum of 200 words, bring them together for the first time as they wait in line at the Department … Continue reading paradise


   Steve Hillebrand U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service There are many ways we can reveal who characters are without 'telling'. How someone lives, how they perceive themselves and others can be manifested in what they call home. Or in what they drive:  Writing Prompt: Who lives here and drives this car? Use the qualities of house … Continue reading reveals

setting character

Create a character through the observation of this setting. Look for aspects and qualities of this photograph that evoke who the person is, how they conduct themselves in their lives, what they desire, what they fear, how they see themselves, how others see them. There are infinite ways to communicate who a character is - we … Continue reading setting character

behaving badly for good reason

There are some characters you are likely to enjoy more in fiction than you would in life. These are the dysfunctional characters who make stories interesting by behaving badly for good reason. As the writer of these characters it is your job to understand, even if they cannot, why they do what they do.  One … Continue reading behaving badly for good reason