Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Objects - Crafting Characters #AtoZChallenge

File:Beaulieu National Motor Museum 18-09-2012 (8421085262).jpg
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Photo by Karen Roe via Wikimedia Commons
         Objects can serve two purposes in fiction writing.  Certain objects can take on a life or character of their own.  Good examples include cars like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and KITT, Hal the Computer, Robbie the Robot, even the sword Excalibur and Tolkien's Ring.

         Inanimate things are primarily used to create the world that your characters live in;  they tell us about everything from setting (town, countryside, planet) and culture to weather and time period.  Objects also provide clues about your character's life, personality, desires and motives. Financial circumstances, family history, educational level, personal habits, likes and dislikes - the list goes on and on. 

       Read the following excerpt and determine what the author is trying to convey by the setting:

     "It was a room of diligently austere splendor. The only furniture was the low marble table and our nine cushions evenly arranged around the carpet.  The only decoration was a framed black and gold-leaf depiction of the Kaaba at Mecca."  from Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

     What does the above description tell us about possible locations, and who the occupants of the room might be?

     How characters use, view and respond to objects can reveal a lot.

  •      Characters can use objects to project a desired image of themselves. (Designer clothes, vehicle, artwork.)
  •      Characters can use objects to transform themselves. (Magical cloak, body modification, costume.)
  •      Characters can form unhealthy attachments to objects.  (Hoarding, need to carry talisman, Tolkien's Ring.)
  •      Characters can form emotional connections with objects.  (Treasured photo, Grandma's teacup, toy from childhood.)
  •      Characters can value objects/material things over people.  (Dad cannot move in with me because he's a slob and will ruin the furniture. I resent you because you got a bigger slice of the inheritance. I would rather die than let you have this {object}.)   
Questions to ask yourself:
  • How do my characters use objects to project themselves?
  • How do my characters use objects to transform themselves?
  • Did I use plenty of objects to "show not tell" things about the characters in my story?



  1. My precious.... :)

  2. Interesting. We all use these things in our writing, yet I've never really analysed it before......^_^

  3. I think the place is possible an Asian house, simple peaceful and minimalistic. I have given your blog a shout out from my letter O today.

  4. I agree with Helen. I'd never thought to analyze the objects in my writing before. Thanks.
    Nana Prah

  5. There's also the symbolic value of a particular object used as a repeating element.