2019 Day 10 – Character Action

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

This is when the challenge gets really tough: the novelty has worn off and the end of the month seems a long time away. But keep going! If you keep writing through this week, you’ll still be writing at the end of the month and that is going to feel really good.

Lean on the support in the comments, to spur you on!

The Prompt

Write A story about yesterday’s character, all grown up

Today’s exercise owes a lot to Donald Mass’s book The Emotional Craft of Fiction.

Yesterday I challenged you to write about an incident earlier in the life of a character you’d come back to, today.

Today I want you to bear in mind the inner struggle of that character, once they’ve had time to create some damaging behaviors based on the incident in yesterday’s story.

Now, pick an action, a physical act, that they can perform in this story. Make it significant to the character.

My example: in Die Hard, when John McClane picks up a photo of his family (back when they were a happy family), he winces, and it shows us everything we need to know about what this character wants, and what’s standing in his way (hint: it’s his own behavior).

Add a moment like that to your story today. No inner-monologue. No telling the reader why it’s significant. Just use all our senses to pull us into the moment.

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

24 thoughts on “2019 Day 10 – Character Action”

  1. My character is in love with V. but is becoming very jealous of the baby. Mostly because of issues with trying to get her father’s love as a child and dealing with issues of abandonment and neglect. Their argument leads to a deep discussion in which she tells V. about being blamed for her mothers death in childbirth and the many ways that her father let her know that he hated her. Once they have cleared the air, Early begins to realize that she can be a decent parent to the baby regardless of her past.

  2. Just getting back to post after emergency dental appointment yesterday and root canal today.

    Yesterday, I wrote about a young girl learning to apologize for and hide her “negative” emotions because they upset her parents. Then today I wrote about her as an adult and the way it limits the way she interacts with her husband and kids. She shuts down if anyone shows any sign of being bothered in any way by what she says.

  3. September Day 10
    Sorry I forgot to post this. Again I have been keen to revisit my May story with this same prompt. I’ve read a lot to get help as I was stuck but I hadn’t plucked up courage to tackle the second draft!
    I’ve done it and am delighted with it. I can now see how beneficial it is to walk away and then return. I need to do this again with this story. Your May guidance was brilliant Julie. Thank you.

  4. I decided that Anna, my character from yesterday, was on her way to becoming a rule breaker around food and meal expectations and the trouble it had gotten her in to over the years. I left her there. This morning along came Janie, a young(ish) woman who for the six years she and Pete had been married has assumed that it is her job to have a full time career and be completely responsible for maintaining their home to a high standard. With some gentle and not so gentle pushing from her old friend Kate and a long overdue talk with Pete, she comes around to understanding that the person putting the pressure on her to be all things to all people is herself and begins to make some much needed adjustments.

  5. I arrived a little late to the September Story A Day party! For the first week of the month, I’ve was travelling and I knew it would be a stretch to start on the 1st. However, I signed up anyway, because I knew even if I started late, at least I would be starting. Today was my first day, and oof, the first 10 minutes I was stuck in analysis paralysis – until I remember that I don’t have to write the perfect story, I just have to write A story – which I managed to do and it feels really great!

    1. High five!!!

      Yes yes! Keep writing this month and you will learn to tame that AP beast! (A little. Until next time you take a break from your writing and have to learn it all over again! Or is that just me?)

      Welcome to the party!

  6. I found the free sample pages from the book you recommended really helpful! I shall get that book 📖.
    I have a story plan in place and have written about 1000 words but the story isn’t finished yet. Also, rereading it, I want to extend the opening paragraph. It was a harder challenge for me because I knew where I wanted it to go and I feel I’m being stilted in style in an attempt to move it along. That’s why I need that book. I shall go back to this story though because I know I can find my voice with it, and I want to be able to do it!

  7. I think I may have gone too dark for my childhood trauma yesterday. I meant to create a moment that would just form a misbelief for my character to work on during today’s prompt, but the only way my poor character is going to get over that one is in therapy! I guess I could write a scene in a therapy office?

  8. I was really inspired by this prompt and yesterday’s. I’ve written almost every day so far and I’m finding that the more often I write, even for a few minutes, the more ideas I have. I’m so glad that I decided to join in this time. At some point I’m going to have to breakdown and try to write on the computer, so I can share and get feedback.

  9. Right, my day 10 is in. It’s 11pm and I’m already thinking about my day 11. Looking for some inspiration I went back on my blog looking at past story-a-days and found this http://afstoryaday.blogspot.com/2017/05/day-4-back-for-love.html novel as it is, it gets better towards the end.

    Maybe, just maybe this helps someone over the first third hump, twenty days to go… It’s worth it, the stuff you come up here is great, you can read it years later and think, who the bloody hell wrote that. have a good night.

    1. Marian,

      Quite liked it, very dark, yet you told a lot in the 100 words. the kid’s outfit in the youtube video is a bit European.


  10. I should probably feel bad in that some of these aren’t full proper stories, but rather snippets… Should, but going to ignore that for now. To go nine days straight post-NaNo is a record for me.

    1. I’m glad you don’t feel bad: writing is writing! And if this is how the challenge is working for you this year, that’s great!

      Like you say, nine straight days of creativity and a pile of story sprouts is something to celebrate!!

    2. Tommia,

      Don’t feel bad, the purpose for me is to plant seeds all the way through. I am thinking of doing na-no-wri-mo (thx for the memory jog Julie) this year. Maybe, just maybe I’ll plant the seed for a novel in story-a-day in the month of may.


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