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Archive for June, 2016

Writing Exercise – Creating a Non-Cliché Character


I’m taking classes for my Master’s in Creative Writing. This is one of the writing assignments in my textbook. I decided to give it a try and see what I came up with.


Here is a list of ten random items:

  • withered poinsettia;
  • business card;
  • dusty radio;
  • silver locket with inscription;
  • bottle of herbal medicine;
  • auburn hair dye;
  • fortune-telling cards;
  • jar of sharpened pencils;
  • brand new laptop.

Invent a character who owns these things. Write up to 250 words about the character, incorporating some of the objects into your description.

Anderson, Linda. Creative Writing.

A character with these belongings…. I can’t help but have a rather eccentric figure in my mind when I read ‘fortune-telling cards’, ‘auburn hair dye’, and ‘dusty radio’. But at the same time that seems too cliche. Is that really a bad thing? What is wrong with being cliche? Maybe they are too familiar. Maybe they are too close to home.

Now I’m challenging myself to push beyond the cliche. The brain struggles. The cliche is so easy. It is screaming at me with neon arrows pointing to itself. How can I ignore it? But I must for the sake of quality creativity. Who am I kidding? Why not use the cliche with a little bit of a unique twist? That’s creative.

My character is a woman about thirty years old. Nope, make that about fifty. She has found herself facing her mid-life crisis. For years she has been the straightlaced wife of a banker, weekly hair appointments and the obligatory pearls. Now she feels she has missed all the fun things. After watching a movie about a gypsy, she longs for such an adventurous life. Moving out of her mansion, she gets a small apartment downtown and leaves her husband to enjoy the country club.

Focused on getting everything right to be the perfect Bohemian, she neglects basic housekeeping duties which don’t come naturally to a former rich lady. The plants don’t get watered. The dusting doesn’t get done. She is too busy focused on the more important things such as new business cards announcing her as a palm reader. There is the new laptop as well since so much has to be done online in today’s world. Her research has led her to buying the right tools such as fortune-telling cards. She also wanted to look the part so she dyed her dark hair auburn. She has a jar of sharpened pencils ready to take notes as she scours the Internet for more tips to be the best in her field. But she didn’t leave the silver locket she had gotten from her husband on their first anniversary. That she will not give up.

Is she too cliche? Or is she a part of us trying to get out?

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