How to Use Everyday Life to Develop Fictional Characters that Readers Won’t Forge

TSS #023: How to Use Everyday Life to Develop Fictional Characters that Readers Won’t Forget

Oct 29, 2022

Read Time: 3 minutes

I despise other people’s hands in my mouth.

Yet I’ve granted access to countless fingers. I’ve even allowed people to wield sharp objects inches from my tongue. Often this oral horror includes mirrors, minions and medicine.

And I’m expected to help carry a conversation during these approved intrusions.

Because the person grinding utensils against my teeth always says, “How are you doing?” That’s when my shoulders constrict and my mind retreats to its safe place.

Of course, I’m referring to my role as “patient” in the dentist chair.

Audition Characters Before You Stare at the Screen

I hate going to the dentist.

After 20 visits in 2021, I remain compelled to diagnose dentists with monstrous and criminal minds.

But can you really blame me?

Have you ever surrendered yourself to the dentist chair, squinted through the high beams and wondered what drove this masked mortal to pursue professional mouth probing?

A quick internet search solidifies their intentions.

These quotes were gathered after searching, “Why did you become a dentist?

“I like carving, sculpting, etc.”
“I want to save the world one tooth at a time.”
“I enjoy tinkering with things.”
“Dentistry is like arts and crafts for adults.”
“Money money money money”

If the above words don’t read like the motives of a villain, I don’t know what does.

Edit the Story of Your Life in Realtime

Have you ever dramatized the story of your life by casting people as fictional characters in your mind?

I constantly rewrite everyday situations into stranger-than-fiction daydreams. Not only will this activity entertain you, but it will flex your creative thinking muscles without a single keystroke.

So instead of focusing on my fear during teeth cleanings, I redirect my mental processing power toward character development.

The point is to position real people as make-believe characters with exaggerated intentions and actions.

Because the characters written into your stories must make up only the most dramatic moments of their lives. And these characters must stand out with purpose-driven actions.

Nobody wants to read about mundane events or people.

Every reader wants to forget they’re even reading a novel and escape into immersive worlds unlike the rest. They want to meet characters and experiences more interesting than their own reality.

So turning everyday life into extraordinary settings will sharpen your creative thinking skills outside writing sessions.

Practice Creative Writing without Actually Writing

Here are a few sample scenarios with questions to jumpstart your own fictive universes:
• Use your phone or pocket notebook to collect and remember story ideas you’ll want to review during writing sessions.

1/ Next time you visit the dentist:

Ask yourself what it is they love so much about swimming in saliva? Or picture yourself asking them to switch places so you can play mad scientist inside their mouth. Or envision a scene where you receive supernatural dental work that makes every word you speak matter to the masses.

2/ Next time you’re pumping gas:

Watch the person closest to you. Ask yourself where they’re coming from? Is Marvin from Pulp Fiction in the trunk? Where are they traveling? Will they be kidnapped by The Dentist before getting there?

3/ Next time you’re at the grocery store:

Look for anyone you can fictionalize. Maybe you imagine the tattooed cashier licking the Fuji apples when no one is watching? Maybe the soccer mom on Aisle 4 is packing a pocket-sized dog in her oversized purse? Maybe the military accidentally opens an alternate dimension full of monsters a la Mist and you are forced to take a stand in the store?

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Not only do these simple cognitive workouts transform boredom into bizarre and breed monsters among men, but they also focus your creative lens without lifting a finger.

Staying on monsters, my dentist probably looks at me like a beast due to bad manners.

You see, I have not hidden my fear of dentists. So during procedures, I wear AirPods and pump up the volume to drown out the sound effects coming from my own unfilmed horror movie.

Except I’ve never seen anybody else using headphones, not a single person. I’m sure there are others, but where are they?

This is when the fear returns because I’m starting to imagine what happened to them.

That’s it for this Saturday.

If found value in this post, would you consider sharing it? Maybe you’ll be helping someone create the story they’ve always wanted to write.

See ya next week!

— David