Take Ten

This creative writing exercise is from Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Neubauer

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Take Ten for Writers • No. 43 Creative Writing Exercise


Develop characters by writing lists they might carry around.

By Bonnie Neubauer | Updated September 9, 2018

I am not an excessive list writer, but I always have at least one to-do list floating around in a pocket or purse. One of my favorite list tricks is to include something I recently accomplished so I can cross it off immediately.

A nice way to develop characters or to flesh out existing ones is to write lists they might carry around. For this exercise, you will be writing the following six lists as way to sketch out a character that you will be given. When you are done listing, you will have a pretty good idea about your character.

  1. List this character’s new year’s resolutions

  2. List this character’s current shopping list

  3. List this character’s chores or errands for this weekend

  4. List this character’s dream places to visit

  5. List this character’s calls and e-mails that have to be returned

  6. List this character’s five things that are always being put off

BONUS: After completing the lists, if you’d like to breathe even more life into this character, set your timer for another ten minutes and, using this character as the narrator, start writing with the phrase:

The boat was listing starboard …

Pick a number between 1 and 10: ______.

Find your number below. This is the character you will sketch through generating six lists.

Listing List

Find your number here. This is the character you will sketch through generating six lists.

  1. A retired high-school French teacher

  2. A newspaper reporter

  3. A factory worker

  4. A racecar driver

  5. A crossword-puzzle constructor

  6. A single mother of three

  7. A recently divorced fifty-year-old man

  8. A waitress

  9. A real estate agent

  10. An insurance salesperson

Now TAKE TEN minutes and WRITE!

TAKE TEN Take-Away

One way to identify who you are as a writer is to list all your writing dreams on a piece of paper. Create your own wishing well to hold your dreams by placing the list in a container. As new writing dreams come to you, write them on slips of paper and place them in the container; it will hold on to them while you work toward them, one at a time.

Next: Seuss-erific Q & A Writing Exercise

©2009 Bonnie Neubauer. All rights reserved.