So I'm working on mining my old boot camp exercises for stories again. I already have a mountain of free-writes backed up, but I'll get back to those.
Two camps ago, I did two descriptions a day (a character and a place) using the word of the day from dictionary.com. I decided to take one of each from different words and then apply to the character a series of questions a fellow writer says she uses to design her characters. I thought they were a really neat way to study a person outside-in.
I chose my character desc easily; there's one I really love. From that, I decided I wanted sort of an S&S/action story, and to avoid what might be obvious, an indoor/urban setting. I ended up with the following two:
She was wiry, sparse, a collection of attenuated muscles strung taut over thin bone. One part warrior, one part scarecrow, daubed in the colors of decay: leaf-mold brown hair, turned-earth skin, pallid grey eyes. Most of the time, she kept her head down and her voice soft – but the grave-chill she could summon when roused would daunt even the fiercest of challengers.
The foyer of the estate swept outwards into the main hall, a hardwood-paneled expanse three floors high. Balconies rimmed the chamber, their bars cages around the many doors. Light stabbed down from a single circular window in the ceiling. The marble staircase pooled, the final steps oozing into the floor - which gleamed, pearl-flesh, like a zealous merchant baring his teeth.
At this point, I decided the setting needed three questions to go along with the character. So my questions are:
What are they wearing?
How do they feel about what they are wearing?
What do they have in their pockets (or about their person, ready say, in case of a werewolf attack?)
Who lives here?
How do they feel about it?
What doesn’t fit?
From this, I should be able to get a good spark for a plot ... whoo.