Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Intuiting Your Character: A Guided Imagery Exercise

writing exercise, emotion, character creation
By Bonnie Randall 

Part of the How They Do It Series (Contributing Author)

During a recent retreat, I had the pleasure of participating in a guided imagery which, through symbolic interpretation, offered insight which I immediately wanted to apply to fiction characters I have created, past and present.

Directions: In order to partake in this exercise, you must be willing to fully immerse yourself into becoming your character. In other words, when faced with the following series of questions, do NOT answer with what you think, but rather write down—in as much detail as possible—the FIRST AND MORE INTUITIVE IMPRESSION your character receives after being faced with each of the following scenarios:

Now let’s start:

1. Imagine your character is on the top of a mountain. How high is the mountain? Is it an Alp? One of the Rockies? An Appalachian? What can your character see from their vantage point? What season is it? What is the weather? What is under their feet—rocks, foliage, snow? How do they feel, standing there?

2. Your character begins walking and comes upon a forest. Describe the forest: what types of trees are there? What does their foliage look like? Do they even have any foliage? What can you see? Smell? Hear?

3. Now your character comes upon a cup in the forest. What does the cup look like? What is it made of? Describe it in detail. What does your character do with it? Do they take it with them or leave it behind?

4. Next, your character discovers a key. Where was this key in the forest? What does it look like? What do you guess it is for? What does your character do with it, and, again—do they take it with them or leave it behind?

5. Further on in the forest, your character comes upon a dog.
What happens next? What sort of dog is it? What does the dog do? What does your character do?

6. Around a bend, your character sees a bear. Where is the bear? What does it do? What does your character do?

7. Now there’s a fork in the road. One direction is well-used, while the other appears more perilous. They are equally beautiful, yet your character must choose one. Which does he or she take?

8. A body of water appears between your character and the rest of the trail. What sort of body of water is it? How deep is it? Your character must traverse it in order to get back onto their chosen path. What does he or she do? Is it easy or difficult to manage passing over / through the water?

9. The last leg of the journey is a hill. Is it a steep or a subtle grade? Is it easy or difficult to climb? Describe your character’s climb.

10. Your character crests the hill, but is now faced with a barrier—and is aware that he or she must get past the barrier no matter what. So…what is this barrier? What is it made of? What does it look like? How does your character feel, seeing it? Scared? Curious? Annoyed? Intrigued? Is getting past it difficult, or easy? How does your character do it, and, MOST IMPORTANT: what is on the opposite side of the barrier?

NOW STOP!! Have you jotted down all of your answers? Go back and add any other impressions you may have missed.

And now….THE REVEAL:

1. The mountain represents where your character sees him/herself in their life right now. So was it a blizzard atop Everest? For that is far more turbulent than a sunny summit in the summer.

2. The forest represents your character’s concept of his or her resources—financial and otherwise. Ergo, if your character’s forest was abundant with vegetation, this indicates a belief that he or she is wealthy (either financially or in some other way). Conversely, perhaps your character’s forest is deadened by autumn, or maybe it has even been burned in a fire. This too is highly indicative of the concept of resources.

3. The Cup represents how friendships are seen by the character. So—was the cup cardboard and therefore degradable / expendable? Or was it fine china that needed to be handled with care? Perhaps it was a cup like The Grail or in some other sort of Guinevere / Lancelot style—this is how your character sees relationships.

4. The Key represents wisdom. So what did your character’s key look like? Was it an old skeleton key, ie ancient wisdom? Was it a flat pass-key that could indicate technological wisdom? A house key that perhaps represents generational wisdom / familial wisdom…?

5. The Dog is representative of your character’s attitude and impressions of his or her life partner. So…did the dog stay with them or get left behind? Was it friendly or hostile? Leashed or no?

6. The Bear is conflict and how your character chooses to interact with conflictual situations.

7. Two paths: this indicates whether your character is, at heart, an adventurer or a conformist. Which did he or she choose?

8. The water represents how your character manages emotions and / or dealing with emotionally charged situations.

9. The hill is aging. Did your character climb the hill with grace and dignity? Or was every step hard fought and steep?

10. Lastly the barrier means how your character approaches death….and what waits for him or her on the other side.

To wrap up: How did engaging in this article affirm what you already knew about your character? How did it enlighten you to attitudes and beliefs your character has that perhaps you did not know? If you do this exercise for more than one character—how were some of their experiences different? How were others the same? Does the insight you gathered here fit for the way you intended or intend for that character to be? Why or why not?

Looking forward to hearing your experiences!

Peace and Happy New Year!


Bonnie Randall is a Canadian writer who lives between her two favorite places—the Jasper Rocky Mountains and the City of Champions: Edmonton, Alberta. A clinical counselor who scribbles fiction in notebooks whenever her day job allows, Bonnie is fascinated by the relationships people develop—or covet—with both the known and unknown, the romantic and the arcane.

Her novel Divinity & The Python, a paranormal romantic thriller, was inspired by a cold day in Edmonton when the exhaust rising in the downtown core appeared to be the buildings, releasing their souls.

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About Divinity & The Python

Divinity - Where deception and desire both hide in the dark...

The Cards Forecast Work

Shaynie Gavin is so much more than the sexy siren who mixes cocktails at The Python. A carpenter with a business plan, Shaynie is trying to amass enough funds to launch her own dream - Divinity, a place where up-cycled furniture from the past is sold alongside Tarot readings forecasting the future - and all in a setting that could not be more perfect: a former funeral parlor. Shaynie's belief that Divinity is attuned with the passions, the loves, and even the lies of its departed souls, allow her to feel satisfied when the cards she draws there reveal Wands, the Tarot's symbol for work. And yet...Shaynie would be so grateful if the Tarot would also, just once, illuminate a Hellnight from her past. A lost evening whose scars still slither over her skin, Hellnight haunts Shaynie. Yet when she calls the question of that chilling evening into her deck...

The Cards Forecast Love

...and love appears in the form of pro hockey star Cameron Weste. Weste is haunted by scars and superstitions of his own, and he wants Shaynie's Tarot to answer far deeper questions than she first guesses this sexy Lothario to be capable of. Who knew Weste was this intense? The Tarot, apparently. And yet...

The Cards Forecast The Devil

When Cameron Weste lands in her life, a stalker surfaces too, dropping clues to a connection between Shaynie, Cameron, and her lost, brutal Hellnight. Suddenly every card warns of deception, and nowhere feels safe. Shaynie and Cameron have to fight for their love - and their lives - as The Devil, their stalker, is determined to turn the Death Card for them both.

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