Coffee with Character … or Tea: A Writing Exercise

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Writing is such a cathartic expression. Be it used to create poetry, something literary, or a piece that is completely outlandish and full of adventure, writing is indeed a breath of fresh air.

As writers, even in the face of an activity so purifying we oftentimes find ourselves locked in a position where our creative muscles have not been trained to go, or rather have no idea how to get where we are trying to go. This frustration is no different than Yoga.

Sure, you have got “Downward facing dog” in the bag, but dare your muscles to attempt “Crane pose.” or “Forearm-standing Scorpion,” and you may find yourself stuck in between the attempt and nowhere near where you had hoped to be.

And it all looked so easy in the beginning.

This writing exercise is all about getting ‘there,’ helping you stretch past the stiffness of your imaginative muscles, especially when it comes to the characters who are the lifeblood of the writing you may be working on.

In order to get ‘there’ you need to know the folks you are traveling with, right?

Here are some steps to do that.

The Exercice

  1. Write down the names of the main characters in your book (and even some important supporting characters). Write them on a piece of paper or even on your computer (your choice) in column style. These are the names of the folks you are inviting over for an intimate meal or even just a good cup of coffee, one character at a time or if you are feeling adventures, invite them all!
  2. Consider the likes and dislikes of each Character: what each character likes to eat. What they don’t like. Who prefers olive oil over butter, how do they take their coffee?
  3. Write it all down: Don’t leave out a single detail no matter how small. If it comes to mind authentically then jot it down.
  4. Now think about how the conversation would go with them: Take time to ‘become’ your characters. Speak like them, laugh like them. Pasutre yourself like you see them doing in your imagination.
  5. Jot these things down in each column.  Do they tell jokes? Do they like the shakshuka you prepared? Do they even know what shakshuka is?
  6. Bonus: Have fun with it. Treat the characters as you would any guest you were entertaining.

What is the Reward

The reward of this exercise is to get to know your characters more intimately. The answers that you find out about these individuals are not necessarily tidbits you would add to beef up your plot, but they are the gems that really get you in the head and heart of the people who are acting out the story. It makes the flow so much more authentic.

It makes the flow so much more authentic. By knowing these little intimate details you will know what things they will and will not tolerate while you work and weave your plot around them.

This information will stretch you from “Downward facing dog” into “Crane pose” without locking your muscles.

Happy Writing!

P.S if you don’t know what shakshuka is, follow this LINK! Happy writing and happy eating!

*This writing prompt as well as original illustrations were created by Candice Coates August, 28 2014.

One response to “Coffee with Character … or Tea: A Writing Exercise”

  1. […] help you along with this, I have created a Writing Excercise called “Coffee with Character … or Tea” that you can add to your writing practice and help you remain on […]


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