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Posts tagged ‘writing prompts’

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?

The Founding of the Witness Protection Program

gangster-539993__180Many stories have been written or put on the big screen that involve the Federal Witness Protection Program. It is a semi-secretive program designed to protect those who come forth to provide evidence against criminals the government is interested. They tend to be high-profile and powerful enough to strike fear in most potential witnesses. Many witnesses feel that if they do come forth only the witness protection program can save their lives.

Let’s start off by saying that the official name for the program is not the Federal Witness Protection Program. That is the name that society has placed on it and is recognized everywhere including the U.S. government. And it is not run by the FBI like so many people think. I did not realize that it is the U.S. Marshals Service that runs the Witness Security Program. You learn something new every day.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service site the purpose of the program is to provide “for the security, health and safety of government witnesses, and their immediate dependents, whose lives are in danger as a result of their testimony against drug traffickers, terrorists, organized crime members and other major criminals.” This program was set up in 1970 under the Organized Crime Control Act which was created as a direct result of a mafia informant who came forth but was fearful of his life. The government wanted the mob family so badly, they agreed to protect him. Thus was born the Witness Security Program.

The site announces that they have protected over 8,500 people and their immediate family members. According to them, no one has ever been harmed under their protection when the rules have been followed. I can only assume that some idiot called up an old friend and let the cat out of the bag. You’re on your own then.

Now, in my story, The Cost of Second Chances, I have a unique version of the program. This is one that is not under the official umbrella and is more done as a side covert project. Why? Because the one in charge has a gut feeling something is not right and the normal process has been compromised. He brings in a black op man who is ready to hang up his hat and asks him to take a woman under his custody possibly for life as his wife. Yes, I know that would never happen, but then again this is a fictional story and the circumstances were set up where it had to happen. Throughout the story, Alex uses his contacts in the agent world to keep tabs on others and to get help when he needs to.

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