Thursday’s Writer’s Tip- building an incidental character

Tonnys interiorIf you’re writing a story or book and need a brief sketch for an incidental character (not one of your major characters), go to a restaurant with a note pad.

Choose one of your fellow diners and write down: describe in detail what they look like, what they’re eating, how they eat, mannerisms, how they’re dressed, who they’re with, their idiosyncrasies that make them unique (do they frown, waggle their eyebrows, pop their knuckles, read, do crosswords, people watch, etc.), how they walk or sit, what makes them noticeable.

The reason I suggest a restaurant as opposed to a bus stop, train station or airport, is that they’re likely to be sitting there a bit longer, so you’ll have more time to observe them. It goes without saying that you should be discreet  and not outright stare at them or you might be accused of being a stalker!

This is an easy way to build a believable incidental character for your story without having to imagine every detail about them.


4 thoughts on “Thursday’s Writer’s Tip- building an incidental character

  1. When nothing is coming, start writing very fast. Write down any and every word, phrase or sentence that comes to mind. Do that for about a minute before you go back to working on your poem. I call this trick flushing. Feel free to use anything you came up with, but the purpose of flushing is to clear your head.


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