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Viewing Post from: Game On! Creating Character Conflict
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Welcome to Game On! A wacky, wonderful mystery tour of why characters behave -and misbehave - and how they create conflict in your fiction. In this blog series, we will explore psychological motivations, needs and wants and how they create obstacles for your characters, thematic arguments for your story, a goal for your protagonist and antagonist and, hopefully, help explain why all of your characters do what they do.
1. Dick & The Art of Detection Part 4

Today, we are going to walk or drive around your neighborhood, or someone else’s, and take notes. Look outside your window if you prefer.

1) Who comes and goes?

2) What type of cars pass? How frequently?

3) How upscale or derelict is the neighborhood?

4) Do you see police cars on patrol or parked?

5) What do the houses say about the people who live there?

6) Which yards are well groomed, which ignored?

7) What do the mailboxes, paint choices, yard ornaments, and foliage say about the occupants?

8) How does a particular house make you feel: irritated, enchanted, worried?

9) What can you tell from the outside about the occupants?

10) Are there seasonal decorations? Are they elaborate, sad,  or laughable?

11) Are the newspapers piled up?

12) Can you tell whether someone is home or not?

13) Do they have uncovered windows that allow you to see inside? During the day? During the night?

14) Do they have fences or pets?

15) Do they have sliding glass doors?

16) Does anyone sit on the front porch, balcony, deck, stairs, or in a lawn chair in the garage?

17) How brisk is the traffic flow? Would a parked car stand out or blend in? Would the make and model, color, or overall condition make a difference?

18) Are children playing outside or are children’s toys outside?

19) Is the neighborhood welcoming or spooky during the morning, afternoon, evening, or night? Does the feel of the neighborhood change depending on the time of day?

20) How easy is it to attract attention when walking through the neighborhood? How would you blend in?

21) Do people look out and see you? Do they wave hello? Do they stay locked inside?

22) Is it one of those places where everyone is gone during the day and comes home after 6 p.m. or does everyone leave after 6 p.m.?

23) Are people outside walking, bicycling, skateboarding, or taking Fido for a walk?

24) Is it close to a park, forest, or other greenspace?

25) Are there signs of wildlife?

These exercises can help you look at your surroundings in a new way. Even if you don’t write mysteries, it is a good way to hone your observational skills because every character lives, works, and plays somewhere! The details reveal with your verbal camera make your scenes and story world come to life. If you create a fictional world, it helps to imagine the details in the spaces and places you create.

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