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Tip Tuesday #127

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Today I have a fun tip from Melanie Woods, a lovely MG/YA writer I've gotten to know through e-mail. Melanie doesn't currently have a blog, so you'll have to enjoy her creative smarts here.


It's like that popular line from Forrest Gump: “Mama always said there's an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes.” I think the type of pictures a person takes says a lot about that person’s personality.

Let's say you find your main character's camera. You pick it up, press it on to browse through the pictures and discover...

Does your MC take multiple pictures of herself? Perhaps she's vain, or likes fashion, or secretly hopes to become a model someday. Or instead she is self-conscious about her appearance, feels undesirable and needs to reassure herself of physical beauty.

Is your MC adventurous? Maybe he has photos of him trying different tricks and stunts. Does your MC like the outdoors? Your MC might have pictures of flowers and insects and trees. Is your MC humorous? Perhaps he has a ton of pictures of himself doing comical facial expressions.

Is your MC smiling or blank-faced? What about posture: ramrod straight, or slouched over? This can say a lot about whether the MC is cheery or depressed. Are most of the photos of the MC with his friends, or is he by himself in most of them? Could anyone look at the pictures he has taken, or are they for his eyes only?

Even if you don't have a scene in your manuscript where your MC is snapping pictures, this is a great exercise to help you get to know your main character.

~Melanie Woods


  1. What an interesting way to get to know my MC a little better. I'm giving this post some serious thought -- thanks!

  2. Fascinating! I'll try this out. Thanks for posting.

  3. Ooooo! I like this idea! Putting it on my list of character builders.

  4. This is a great idea. Too bad there's no tech in my current WIP. I'll have to file this one away for later. Thanks, Casey and Melanie!

  5. What a most original idea - thank you!! I love this tip - thanks for sharing!! Take care

  6. This is a nice exercise that can get you thinking outside the character box! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Such a creative idea! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  8. Good writing exercise, I may try this. A similar one I've done is what is in your main character's purse (or if male - bag of some sort). It helps parse out those smaller details that build a character into something more. Great idea!

  9. Thanks for a great writing exercise and tips! There is also the one- what would they doodle if they are given a pen and paper?

  10. This is awesome! Between you and Janet Johnson, I'll have all sort of exercises to try with my new characters. ;D Thanks!

  11. I've heard that tip about asking what's in your character's pockets, but never thought to check his camera, which could say a lot more about him and his friends. Thanks!

  12. I love this idea. Music playlists come up frequently, but I have not seen the pictures idea before. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I love great ideas that are so simple you ask yourself "Why didn't anyone think of that before?!"
    Thanks Melanie & Casey!