Characterization

I call this one “The Odd Couple.”

[Person 1] was/had ___________________________; [Person 2] had/was________________.

What’s all this gibberish? That’s your formula. You fill in the bracketed info using proper nouns, such as William, Rosalyn, Allan, and Debbie. You fill in the blanks with character traits. The classic one, from The Odd Couple play and TV show, would be:

Felix was very tidy and organized; while Oscar was a total slob, never picking up after himself or tending house.

That’s a classic, but we can be much more original about it, and more in depth. The traits do not have to be diametric opposites as in this example. But they should provide some interesting contrast. We also don’t need to be gender normative about it. The proper names can be of any gender combination (or ambiguous). Do one, completing the blanks, and do another. This idea is to write these somewhat rapid-fire, without looking back. Don’t fuss over the names. Pick one attribute, then the next, without an excess of forethought. Make them snap and sparkle.

Here’s a few examples from my notebook (along with a picture of the notebook itself, just for fun.) These I did in with my students November 19, during my Fiction 2 class at Gotham Writer’s Workshop. We always do 20-minutes of in-class writing (we have that luxury in the 3-hour class).

Enjoy this one!