Day 2: Headline Characters

Day two, how do you do? 

Today we’re gonna skip the words and focus on the pictures. Specifically: people in local newspapers—an endless source of delight and outrage. You know the ones—where people get inexplicably irate about their neighbour’s garden hedge or youths existing in public or someone finds an unexploded WWII bomb under their cabbage patch.

We’ve gathered some local news images for you, except we’ve taken away the headlines, so all you have is the photo and your own imagination… 

A photo of a man standing in front of a car, holding up packets of cigarettes. The boot is open and there are more packets inside. Both front doors of the car are also wide open and there are two suitcases sitting beside it. The man is wearing a rain jacket and glasses and looks serious. On one side of the street are bushes and trees. On the other side there's a parked car, a pavement and a row of houses.
Photo taken from high above showing two sides of a garden hedge. On one side a man stands looking up at the camera. On the other, there are building foundations for what looks to be a house.
Photo of a group of women on a street beside a church. They are all holding suitcases and bags, and are beign spoken to by a police officer who seems to be deflating a large infaltable penis. One of the women has a white veil on her head and they are all laughing. Another police officer stands hard at the end of the street.
A collage of three images showing a small motorboat stranded on top of some jagged rocks in the middle of the ocean. In the first two, the tide is low and the boat sits precariously balanced high in the air. In the third, the tide is higher and the water almost reaches the bottom of the boat. A figure is in the sea wearing a red life jacket with one arm in the air. The photo has been taken from a red boat.
Photo of a middle aged woman crouching down on a paved street, pressing her fist into the ground next to a lopsided manhole cover and some cracked paving slabs. She is wearing a light blue top, dark blue jeans, a white scarf, and a white watch. She looks disappointed.

Pick a picture, have a lil’ think about what you think might be happening, or use it to make up a situation based on the clues and characters involved.

Then take 20 minutes to try to craft a brand new story and see where it takes you! 

A few springboard ideas to help you get going: 

  • Who’s in the photo? What are they doing and why? How are they feeling? What would they say if the picture could speak?
  • Try describing the situation/landscape/objects in the photo. Bring it to life and imagine what happens immediately after this captured moment. 
  • Come up with a brand new headline to go with the picture and write your own made up report on the situation. 
  • Or perhaps your story has nothing to do with what’s going on in this picture, but the setting/character sends you on a whole new journey…
Gif of a talk show host saying 'more as the story develops'

Check out the resources below for more advice on crafting realistic fictional characters and let us know how you get on in the advent forum!

(Oh, and treat yourself to a real life advent chocolate because you deserve it.)

Happy writing! See you tomorrow. 

Useful Stuff & Things:

Capture your chosen character’s first impressions with this quick but effective exercise: The Minute You Walked in the Room

Learn how to create a ficitonal person with your brain in our 5-star characterisation masterclass: Making People

Want to be a better writer?

Or just to laugh at bum jokes? Either way, you need the famous Writers’ HQ newsletter. You know what to do – put your thing in the thing.