Sunday, December 13, 2009

ORACLE (Part 2): Acrostic

Since we're talking about character, here's another exercise the ORACLE gives me from time to time. Like most writers, I often assemble character bios at the beginning of a new project. Trouble is, these bios get long and clunky, making it hard for me to keep track of all those little character details. This exercise helps me focus my character bios into a short, portable format. Just follow these two easy steps.

Step 1: Write your character's name on an index card so that each letter appears on its own line.

Step 2: For each letter, write a word or short phrase that captures some essential characteristic of your character. It doesn't have to be a complete sentence or even a complete thought; the idea is that the phrase help you remember important elements about the character.

Example: Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland
(Since Lewis Carroll's humorous poetry first inspired me to do acrostics, I thought it appropriate to use one of his characters to illustrate this exercise.)

Cat without a grin / Grin without a cat
Hangs out in Wonderland
Species of the feline variety
His grin stays behind
Invisible at times
Reappears gradually, sometimes not completely
Exceedingly mad

Croquet with the Queen
According to him "we're all mad here..."
Talks in riddles

I like to write these acrostics on an index card or slip of paper and keep them in my writing notebook. That way, I can take them with me at all times and if I find myself jotting down notes or sketching a scene, I have these mini-bios along to jog my memory.

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