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2021: Celebrating The Writers' Greenhouse
10 YEAR anniversary!

Friday, 18 December 2020

Weekly writing prompt: Character action figures

Character Action Figures

In the run-up to the online Imaginary Worlds course in February, I'm posting a writing prompt each weekend, to carry you through the winter – plenty of different stuff for you to play around with as a chance to experiment, start inventing, get your pen moving, and have fun!

This week's prompt is CHARACTER ACTION FIGURES. Vivid distinctive characters are important in any genre and that takes on a whole extra dimension when it comes to imaginary worlds: after all, these are the genres of action figures, figurines, and cosplay! Plus their clothes, hairstyles, and accessories are all indications of a world and a culture you've invented. Personally I try to avoid describing characters through their bodies: too often, some quite nasty tropes feed into that, where weight, attractiveness, and height are used as a measure of virtue and worth. But I still want my characters to be visually identifiable, to spring to life inside the reader's mind. So one of my favourite tactics to imagine them in full distinctive glory is... to make up their action figures!

If you have existing characters: Imagine all your characters were made into action figures: what accessories would they come with? What key outfit would they wear? What makes them instantly recognisable as that character and what would be the absolute must-have accessory for them? If they're part of a group (eg captains, wizards, etc) how do you immediately tell them apart from the rest of that group?

If you don't have existing characters: go to and for each character you want to invent, pick 2-3 of the 5 random suggestions as your character's accessories. You can invent their look if you want, or pick 1-2 items of clothing from the clothes randomizer: Then from those things, invent them by brainstorming or randomising to make sense of what you've chosen.

Have fun with it!

If you'd like to find out more about the Imaginary Worlds course this February, you can read about it and book here. I'll be posting writing prompts each week, so if you want them delivered to your inbox, you can subscribe to the blog here:

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