Friday Fiction - Nikki Young Writes

Character Development – Friday Fiction

I am looking at character development this week. I took two characters from the novel I am working on and put them in a new situation. The scenario I created is further on in time than the novel itself. It is something that might happen to my characters in their fictitious future. The point in time I chose has no particular bearing on this exercise, though. You could use any situation and the timeframe is insignificant. However, it is helpful if the scenario you use is different from the story itself, so that you can put your characters in a new situation and see how they react. What exercises do you do to develop your characters? YOU CAN LINK UP YOUR FICTION EXTRACTS AND SHARE THEM WITH ME USING THE BLUE FROG LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.

Here goes…

I looked at the clock on the kitchen wall and seeing that it was only 8 o’clock, decided that I had time to get ready and do a bit of homework before I left for work at 11. On the way up to my room, I stopped outside mum’s door. I hesitated. It was still early and there was no way she would be awake, but I hadn’t checked on her the night before. I opened the door carefully, although I knew I didn’t really need to and peeped inside. I could see that she was asleep in bed and she was very still. The drugs always made her sleep very deeply. I sighed and was about to back out of the door, when something caused me to stop. Perhaps it was the fact that mum was so still or that I just needed reassurance, I wasn’t sure, but I walked slowly towards the bed and knelt down in front of her.
I put my ear close to her head so I could listen for breathing. There was nothing. I couldn’t even feel her breath on my face. I recoiled in panic and shoved her shoulder, trying to wake her up. Instead, she just rolled on to her back.
‘Mum, mum, wake up,’ I shouted. The room was spinning and I could feel the blood pounding in my ears. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t sure if she was dead or not and I had no first aid training. I could feel hot tears pouring down my face and suddenly I was angry.
‘Don’t you dare die on me,’ I screamed, pounding my fists on her chest as hard as I could.
‘You can’t leave me too; I will hate you if you do. You hear me?’
I don’t know how long I did that for, but suddenly I heard a gasp and a cough. Mum opened her eyes and all I could see in them was a mixture of panic, fear and confusion. Relief flooded through me, but I was still mad and the adrenaline was making me crazy.
‘You stupid, stupid idiot, you almost killed yourself,’ I cried as I grabbed my mum by the shoulders and shook her. Mum said nothing, but when I finally stopped, I could see tears pouring down her face. I slumped over her chest and wept too and when I felt mum’s arm around my back I climbed on the bed and curled up to her, just as I used to when I was little. We lay there and cried together, until both our tears had dried up. It was the first time we had held each other since Aimee’s funeral.
I was the first to move. I felt weak from all the energy I’d used, but I needed to reassure myself that mum was still alive.
‘We should call an ambulance and get you checked over properly,’ I said.
‘No, I’m fine,’ mum said. She attempted to sit up and then groaned, holding her head.
‘I don’t think you are fine. I’m calling an ambulance and you are going to the hospital if they have to drag you there kicking and screaming,’ I said, getting up and grabbing the phone next to mum’s bed.
I made the call and then looked at my mum, who was so pale that she looked like a ghost. I gasped and almost started crying again.
‘They will be here within ten minutes,’ I said. ‘I’ll go and put some clothes on and then come and help you get dressed too if you like.’
‘No need,’ mum whispered, curling back under the covers. ‘I’ll go as I am.’
I swallowed the lump in my throat and dashed in to my room, grabbing the first things I could find and shoving them on. My mum was a woman who had always been so careful about her appearance, who would never even answer the door if she were in her dressing gown. She had pride and she was headstrong. However, the person in the next room to me didn’t care about anything anymore. I didn’t know who that person was.
When the ambulance arrived, I ducked quickly in to the back with mum, ignoring the comments from the neighbours, who had come out to find out what was going on. Whilst the paramedic checked over my mum, he questioned me about what had happened. When he praised me for what I had done, I was surprised.
‘But I didn’t do anything,’ I protested. ‘I was hitting her because I was mad at what she had done to herself.’
‘Well you being mad saved her life,’ the paramedic said. ‘What you did by pounding her chest was to restart her heart.’
I shuddered and looked at mum laying there with an oxygen mask over her mouth and felt the familiar lump appearing in my throat again. She could have died, actually died but I saved her without even realising it. What would I have done if she had died? I didn’t want to think about that, it was too painful a thought. Instead, I wondered whether mum had tried to kill herself or if she’d taken too many pills by accident. I hoped it was the latter, because if she had really thought about checking out and leaving me then I would do more than pound on her chest, I would rip her bloody hair out.


Nikki Young Writes
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Comments (0)

  1. Mummy Tries 23rd September 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Great little story Nikki! I’m finding all this fictional writing and the process behind it really interesting. It’s inspiring me to write some flash fiction of my own 😉 #whatimwriting

  2. maddy@writingbubble 23rd September 2014 at 1:16 pm

    That extract is gripping! I love the idea of developing your characters by putting them in a different situation – I’ve never done that, I’ve just worked with them within the frame of my novel. I Can see that it’s a useful thing to do though, as you’ve created a stand-alone piece of fiction as well as learning more about your characters – fab. Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting and your linky looks interesting too!

  3. Sadie Hanson 23rd September 2014 at 4:31 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this… it flowed really well :o). And this is exactly what I’ve been working on over the summer – putting my characters outside the situations of the actual story and letting them dialogue. I found myself learning so much more about my characters doing this! :o)

  4. redpeffer 23rd September 2014 at 6:21 pm

    That’s such an interesting concept. I do think of my character’s as real people I have to admit, but I handn’t thought about ‘fleshing’ them out in this way. Mind you, I struggle to find enough hours in the day to write as it is!

  5. deskmonkeymummy 23rd September 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Wow, really heavy stuff. Intriguing reading, and a terrifying moment. My poor characters are forced to do all their experimentation within the confines of the first draft. They tend to develop as the story grows. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I like this idea though x

  6. Funky Wellies 23rd September 2014 at 9:37 pm

    This is the second post I am reading about character development and exercises… It is giving me ideas. 😉 xx

  7. sophieblovett 23rd September 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Hmmm… You’ve got me thinking about whether I can find the time to let my protagonist free a bit as part of my character development. It would certainly be a good way of flexing my writing muscles whilst I’m working on the nitty gritty of the edit and could generate some flash fiction too… I’ll let you know what I come up with! X

  8. Sara (@mumturnedmom) 24th September 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Wonderful piece of writing, I really am in awe of all this wonderful fiction I’m reading, very inspiring. And, the different processes for writing fiction and developing characters are fascinating. I really am feeling inspired to start trying my hand at more fiction, I just wish I had more hours in the day! #whatimwriting

  9. aimeehorton 24th September 2014 at 5:59 pm

    oooh! I’ve never thought of doing something like this before! THANK YOU! Leave it with me (and good luck!) x

  10. Morgan Prince 25th September 2014 at 11:18 am

    Wow, that’s some powerful writing! I loved reading this. And I may well try this exercise with my characters and see what happens. Brilliant.

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