Here’s one of the 10-minute exercises from a writing workshop I just did for the Knoxville Writers Guild on using real people in fiction or memoir. In this exercise, we looked at making a more rounded vision of a historical figure. Several people used the prompts with great results for someone in their families (living, dead, or long dead).
There are only two rules: 1) Don’t overthink. Finish this in 10 minutes; and 2) Be bold. Make up what you don’t know.
PEEKING BEHIND THE MYTH
1. Name a historical/famous person (or family member) with a strong persona or image.
2. What quality stands out?
3. What other quality (perhaps a weakness, dark side, or unlikely ability) might s/he also have?
4. Name a little-known quirk, behavior, or dream.
5. A deep memory/scar/loss.
6. A secret ambtion.
7. One day, your character wanted . . .
8. But . . .
9. So your character chose to . . .
Have fun and if you had good results with this, please share in the comments section.
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