Let’s say you have three different characters and they all walk through the same street…

…what would they notice and why?

I went to Mountain Con yesterday and attended an interesting workshop hosted by Brandon Sanderson that dealt with all matters concerning plot. Talking about the difficulties of distinguishing between different character voices, we talked about an interesting idea concerning character and setting.

Let’s say you have three different characters and they all walk through the same street/city – What would they notice about their surroundings and why?

If I take Ares, Damian, Raeyn and Nymeron for example, all four of them would see entirely different things when walking through the City’s Core. Nymeron would see it as the center of his rule, his legacy if you want to call it that and generally as the center of civilization itself. While his son Raeyn would see it as a scam, as a world he’s being pushed into as the heir to the Emperor’s throne and generally everything he’s trying to escape from. Damian would view it as some sort of work environment. He’d know a lot of residences of the city’s nobility and he’d notice the places he’d usually use to commit an assassination without being noticed. He’d know which ways to use to slip in and out of the Core without ever being seen, etc. Ares would see the Core a lot like Damian does and yet it also is part of his childhood as his memories about the Core are entirely different from Damian’s or anyone else belonging to the Shadows. Like Damian, he’d know the patrol routes of the Watch and know when to keep away, etc.

Now this doesn’t include things they’d actually see. Every character would have different associations with buildings like the Palace or the Finger of Light or districts like Nightshade or Up Side. They all would describe the buildings, streets and people they see in other ways relating to their background and personal association with it and that’s what makes this exercise this interesting. It’s definitely worth a try, especially if you are writing a novel from different PoV’s, but also if you struggle giving your supporting characters their own personality.

Right now I’m working on an assignment for my writing class; describing a specific setting. I personally always find mere descriptions rather dull and uninspiring so my attempt here is to describe the City of Helos from Raeyn’s perspective (since I’m planning to write a short story about him for the final project of this class). I might end up doing the same thing for more than one character though just to see what comes out of it and to improve my own setting description skills, because honestly it’s not one of my strengths and this sounds like a cool way to work on them a little. I’ll see about posting the results on here to get a little more content up and running again *cracks whip* I really need to get my writing back into gear.

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One Response to “Let’s say you have three different characters and they all walk through the same street…”

  1. Darcy Says:

    A workshop with Brandon Sanderson! ?! I am so completely jealous. 🙂 This sounds like a very helpful exercise.


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