“Fictional” Character

Brainstorming and freewriting about your character have proven to provide better writing if done before outlining. This exercise has been modified from the Gotham Writers’ Workshop.

Tags: #Brainstorm #Freewrite #Writing #Character

A. Brainstorm 20m total

5m Choose

YOUR TURN: Pick a person you know. Fictionalize the name, which will also give you license to alter other characteristics, if you so desire. *1

5m Describe

YOUR TURN: You have five minutes to describe this person as you can. Use sticky notes. Don’t write whole sentences. These are just ideas *2

5m Organize

YOUR TURN: Group these sticky notes into categories. Do you see a trend? Did you use all of the senses? Did you write down words that are very specific?

5m Let it linger

YOUR TURN: Take a break and make yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or just do a little cleaning, letting your character linger in your mind while you do something mundane.

B. Freewrite 25 m

Keep in mind that there is no editing aloud in freewriting. It’s like doodling for the writer. No rereading, no spellcheck.


YOUR TURN: Let everyone in your house know that for the next 25 minutes, you will be busy. Short of a death or frozen pipes, just frown at anyone who comes near you. Put on noise cancelling headphones. Set a timer up that ticks. When you feel the footfalls of your progeny, point at the timer. Do whatever it takes. Just write in a white heat and don’t stop.

Sometimes the bad writing just has to come out before the good writing will.

Now that you’re done…

Bookmark this page in case you need some prompting for your characters.

*1. If you’re having trouble picking a name.
*2. If you’re really stuck… try these questions….


  1. Lol I love the connection between doodling and freewriting. It does feel like that. Also, writing random vignettes feels like sketching to me. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gail Menius says:

      Thank you so much for this comment. I feel like we don’t judge our doodles, and that’s how we get better at drawing. Why can’t we have that same attitude about our writing? 🙂


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