I’ve found that writing a scene from your work-in-progress can help develop your characters. It doesn’t have to be exactly what will be in the final draft, but it can give you an idea of how your character acts. Here’s what I wrote today to get to know my protagonist.
It was morning. Nathaniel woke up, earlier than usual, even though he was already an early riser. He got dressed and went outside to the bonfire area, and sat on one of the logs, which were used as chairs. The remains of last night’s bonfire were left in the fire pit. Nathaniel started to pray his morning prayers, when his eye caught a notebook lying abandoned on the log next to him. The cover was filled with artistic swirls that looked hand drawn. The artist had some skill. Nathaniel walked over, and flipped through it, looking for a name inside, but couldn’t find one. He felt strangely drawn to it. He didn’t know if it was the appeal of the art, or simply the mystery of it.
The first page had a realistic sketch of a girl. He vaguely recognized her. Her hair was loosely curled, dark brown with thin caramel streaks. She was sitting in a moderately suggestive way. Under the drawing the artist wrote in feminine handwriting: Broken. Seeking love. There was also a sketch of a bleeding heart, with many keys stabbing into it. The artist used dark colors. Nathaniel flipped the page, still entranced.
The next page was in stark contrast to the one before. It was filled with springtime colors, and a sketch of a cute red-haired girl. Her eyes looked lively, and her crooked smile was sincere. Under her, were the words: Naive. Life may be a sad surprise. The bottom was filled with swirly bird sketches.
Don’t read the rest. He thought to himself. He flipped the page, and was surprised to find a drawing of himself. Under his picture were the words: Strong. Will make a girl happy one day. He stared at these unspoken compliments and wondered who said them. He suddenly felt very intrusive. These were the artist’s secret thoughts, and here he was reading them. The artist must be a girl.
He flipped to the very end of the book, and at the bottom of the page, in small cursive letters it read: Rebecca. He remembered meeting Rebecca. She was a quiet girl, and very pretty. She had long straight blonde hair and sad brown eyes. He was overfilled with a strong urge to know her.
He flipped to another page, written on it was a poem:
Salty tears fall down my face
Broken hearted girl
Was this poem about herself? Or someone else? He was impressed by the artist’s eloquence. Attraction flickered in his heart. He wanted to comfort her. Don’t think about her. She’s not an option. Not now. She’s only seventeen.
He flipped to a page with a sketch of Ignatius. He looked handsome, with a fake smile and sad eyes. He looks broken. I never saw that in him. Under him were the words: Searching. Aching for truth amidst the lies.
He closed the notebook quickly and took it inside the cabin. He was still thinking of her.