What Your Surroundings Say
When someone walks into your house, what’s the first thing that visitor can assume about you? Probably a number of things. From the pictures on the wall, to the choice of furniture, to the prominence (or lack thereof) of a television, to the colors incorporated, to the amount of clutter, to the presence of pets, and even to the temperature within your home, all tell a story about you and who you are.
Pretend for a moment that you are a visitor coming to your home for the very first time. Take a few minutes and create a paragraph or two of what that visitor might derive about you from what is seen.
My Friends’ Surroundings
I have a friend who loves handwork – knitting, crocheting, needlepoint – you name it, she loves it. If you step into her home, she nearly always has to move a basket filled with yarn and patterns from any available sitting space. A grand array of neatly framed needlepoint graces her walls.
Another acquaintance of mine home schools their three children. What was formerly the formal dining room is their classroom. Signs of school are apparent all around the house. Clutter is not a top concern for this mother.
Then there’s my friend who loves to hunt and fish. The first hint is the mud-splattered pickup in the driveway. No one uses the front door in this house. Everyone is funneled in through the side door and into the kitchen where something yummy is always cooking. Fishing rods lean all askew against the wall on the porch. The hunting dog has to be nudged from the doorway before you can enter.
Your Character’s Surroundings
You’re getting the picture loud and clear. When creating your character(s) you can do the same thing with various settings. As an exercise imagine the intimate surroundings of your character. It could be an office, a backyard, a single room, a closet, or even a prison cell. Now write several paragraphs of detailed description. As you create this setting include enough characteristic things so your reader can accurately visualize that individual.
As you write let your mind move past the obvious. Look for details of success or lack of success. What about social status? Or habits? What of the details determine (or demonstrate) emotions, personality, intelligence, and outlook on life?
Stretch Creative Muscles
Such exercises work to stretch the muscles of your imagination. Such exercises challenge you to move beyond the obvious. (Good novelists cannot afford to continually dwell in the land of the obvious.)
What an imaginative method in which to move your character(s) into even deeper dimensions. Try this exercise and see where it leads you.