Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wouldn't Be Caught Dead

You can learn a lot about a person by knowing what they wouldn’t do. Let’s crack the window on this. First I’m going to invite you to learn a bit about my MC from the novel I’m currently editing.

Here’s a list of things Lindsay wouldn’t be caught dead…

Saying: I’m game for anything. I’ll go anywhere.

Thinking: The world is my oyster.

Watching: Reality TV (a show like The Hills)

Acting: Flagrantly uninhibited

Eating: Restaurant food

Playing: A rowdy game of Charades

Reading: Cosmo

And now a window into me—here’s a list of what I wouldn’t be caught dead…

Saying: I quit.

Thinking: I don’t need God.

Watching: Boxing or ultimate fighting (the deal with the cages)

Acting: Uppity or above others
Eating: Anything from Fear Factor

Playing: Heavy metal music

Reading: Derogatory, racist blather/rants or statistic reports

Do you agree that you can learn a lot by knowing what a person wouldn’t do? Go for it. Write answers to the list (or partially answer) for either yourself or one of your MC’s.

*photos by flickr


  1. Hmm, I'm going to do this for my MC since it will help me develop her a little more.

    Saying: I was wrong
    Thinking: I need help
    Watching: A rodeo
    Acting: Weak
    Eating: (Drinking) milk
    Playing: Any folksy music
    Reading: Amish fiction

  2. What a cool activity! You would die having my brother as your brother - he's a fighter. Nicest guy on the fface of the planet. You'd never guess he was a fighter. It's incredibly nerve-wracking!

    My character:
    Saying: I love you (to a man)
    Thinking: It's time to move on.
    Watching: that Donald Trump show
    Acting: rude
    Eating: cheap coffee or store bought cookies or baked goods
    Playing: heavy metal
    Reading: Ted Dekker (no offense to Ted...she has her reasons for this)

    Now for me? Yikes! That's hard! Maybe I don't know myself properly.

    Here are a couple:
    Saying: Jesus' name in veing
    Thinking: ???
    Watching: Meet the Cardashians or Howard Stern or Judge Judy
    Acting: superior or arrogant
    Eating: (drinking) coffee and beer (both taste incredibly gross to me!)
    Playing: heavy metal
    Reading: science fiction

  3. I would never be caught:

    Saying: I hate you.
    Thinking: It's six o' clock in the morning, I think I'll go ahead and wake up!
    Watching: Late night Cinemax channels.
    Acting: Dumb to get a guy's attention.
    Eating: Custard.
    Playing: On a Ouija board.
    Reading: L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad.

    Janie would never be caught:

    Saying: I can always rely on my strength.
    Thinking: If I turn him in, everything will be better.
    Watching: Her sister get in trouble.
    Acting: Confident and self-assured.
    Eating: Oysters.
    Playing: Hard to get.
    Reading: Books for her age group.

  4. LOVE this blog AND this post! Why? Music, intensity, fun, learning.

    My main character:
    Wang Kai wouldn't be caught dead eating: American fast food.
    Wang Kai wouldn't be caught dead thinking, "It's hopeless."

    Blessings, keep it comin'!!!
    s can't reclaim Lily."

  5. This is a very interesting take on describing a person. It reminds me of a technique in art: drawing the shape of the space around a figure (called "negative space") to help you draw the figure accurately.

  6. I love this idea! I agree, I think it tells a lot about someone. I hope you don't mind if I borrow it for my writing students.

    I would never be caught:
    Saying: I can do it without God
    Thinking: I hate someone
    Eating: live bugs
    Watching: horror movies
    Playing: with fire
    Reading: horror

    Thanks for doing this. Great post! :) Blessings!

  7. How fun! I'm not writing a fictional book right now, but here's a few of my own "thou shalt not's" :

    drinking: high energy drinks
    eating: pizza without sun-dried tomatoes
    watching: Seinfeld without pizza with sun-dried tomatoes
    saying: please judge me

  8. I THOUGHT my main character wouldn't be caught dead with a tatoo. But she surprised me!

  9. Interesting idea, I'll have go think about that one.

  10. Saying: Anything just for the sake of hearing myself talk.
    Thinking: I'll never write again.
    Watching: A horror movie.
    Acting: Better than others.
    Eating: Oysters.
    Playing: Golf.
    Reading: Tabloid magazines.

  11. My MC wouldn't caught dead...

    Saying- I love you
    Thinking- The sky is the limit
    Watching- Child birth
    Acting- Crude
    Eating- Oatmeal
    Playing- The piano
    Reading- Horoscopes

    Great exercise Wendy- I learned a few nuggets I didn't even know were there!

  12. This is a really great idea, Wendy. And I already knew your own personal "Wouldn't be caught dead acting..." just by what I've read from you on this blog. That's why I like your blog so much. :-)

    Here are mine:

    Saying - I've never made any major mistakes.
    Thinking - "I'm so jealous of her."
    Watching - Toilet-humor-based "man" movies
    Acting - Cliquey
    Eating - Brussel sprouts
    Playing - most video games
    Reading - censored to avoid hurting any writer feelings :-)

  13. What a great exercise! And I think my MC would answer much the way yours did. Though she's working on livening it up a bit. ;)

  14. Fun!
    My MC in my recent manuscript would...

    never say: I love you
    never think: I trust you
    never act: lighthearted
    never eat: macaroni and cheese

    He's got some changing to do!

  15. I agree--we can learn so much thinking about what our characters wouldn't do. My list is similar to yours. I won't quit writing, I don't say nasty things about my family or friends, I hate boxing, I won't act cruel, I would never play chicken in a car, and I won't read (stealing from your answer) derogatory or racist blather.

  16. I love this!!! P.S. Is that you in the picture at the top? It looks like you!

    Here's mine:

    Saying: That's hot. I'm not Paris Hilton.

    Thinking: Maybe I should go for a run today.

    Watching: Ultimate Fighting (totally agree)

    Acting: Rude to my Waitress - one of my biggest pet-peeves in others.

    Eating: anything alive (I just watched Man vs. Wild last night, and the dude ate a LIVE FROG!)

    Playing: Card games, I'm terrible at them

    Reading: Emailed forwards...I just don't open them. Terrible, I know.

  17. Oh how fun!!!! I so want to copy you for my that allowed?????? LOL!!!!

    But yes, I do think A LOT can be said about a person by answering these questions!!

  18. My MC;
    Never say: I won't do that
    Never think: Someone's more crazy than me
    Never act: Like I love someone, when I don't
    Eat: Man, she'll try anything!
    Play: Not a big sports fan.
    Read: All the time, always curious

    That was fun, made me think a bit more about my MC, too. Thanks!

  19. My character has such low self esteem, she felt the need to hijack someone else's personality. She becomes the dicotomy of both world's suddenly having the freedom to do those things she wouldn't normally and ignoring those things she wouldn't have in the past. I love my character. I'm really rooting for her to be the one God uses to champion me to publication. *sigh* The holiday's are interrupting my goals. Boo!

  20. This is fun! Here's the list I wouldn't be caught dead...

    Saying- the 'N' word- grrrr!
    Thinking- I'm so much better than they are
    Watching- pornography
    Acting- full of myself
    Eating- pig feet
    Playing- head games
    Reading- Junk email

  21. Can't think in the negative now--too tired I guess. But I bet that would be insightful!

  22. Okay, this is fun. I liked reading everyone's answers above. this is also hard to do.

    For me:
    Saying: the word "fart"
    Thinking: That I'm better than someone else at anything
    Watching: Golf
    Acting: self-righteous
    Eating: Hominy
    Playing: Trivial Pursuit (I don't like to look stupid)
    Reading: erotica (you did say caught, right?)

  23. I'm really intrigued about your manuscript, Wendy. Can't wait to read it. Let's see, this is for my main character (at least for the stage I'm at in editing...she does change later on in the book).

    Saying: I love you
    Thinking: Truth is better than fiction
    Watching: Pretty much anything besides the Discovery Channel
    Acting: True to herself
    Eating: Healthy food
    Playing: Sports of any kind
    Reading: The Bible

    What a fun exercise!

  24. Your kids are so cute! I just came upon your blog. As a parent I hope you will pick up my books someday and read them. I feel every parent should be aware of the silent epidemic in our world. My first book is "Stolen Innocence" my second book just came out last month called "Living for Today". There both in bookstores.

  25. Oooh, what fun! Thanks for the invite.
    I would never

    say: I hate you
    think: Where are you, God?
    watch: any tv show or movie that includes violence or exploitation
    eat: sea slugs
    play: strip poker
    read: mean-spirited jokes

    Audience of ONE

  26. Nice exercise! I'm going to try this out this afternoon (I've got to take my daughter to the dentist, so I'll print it out and give it a go while I wait!)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  27. Fabulous!
    My heroine's list

    Saying: No soda for me
    Thinking: I'm beautiful
    Watching: A horror movie
    Acting: Sophisticated
    Eating: whole grains
    Playing: classical music
    Reading: anything other than a magazine

    Fun! I loved your list, by the way!

  28. Wow, this is thought provoking. I have to think about this, too!

  29. Sarah, Amish fiction...ah, since I've been to your blog I know a little about this work and am still intrigued.

    Katie, Yeah, I might not be the most supportive sister in your case. Nice specifics with Donald and Ted. Really, no coffee or beer?

    Lauren, Ditto on your acting and reading. Must know more about Janie.

    Patti, Thank you. Wang Kai sounds intriguing. Was the reclaim Lily bit code?

    Cassandra, That came to mind when I thunk this up. ;)

    Karen, Borrow away. I'm flattered. I might play with fire. Always thought it looked cool to toss torches. Might have to try that someday.

    Deborah Ann, I liked how when I read yours I really felt like I got to know you a little more. Sun dried tom. - Yum. You know, I've never had a high energy drink. My husband downed Red Bull's on a biking trip. He was always in the lead...hmmmm.

    Joanne, I LOVE it when they surprise me.

    Patti, Hope you thought on it.

    Susan, I'm guilty of your saying. Ouch.

    Tamika, What's your character have against child birth and the piano! :D It was a fun exercise for me too.

    Rosslyn, Your words meant a lot to me! I appreciated your thinking and I'm right there w/ you on your saying.

    Janna, Your 80-something MC? Wow, that is funny.

    Jennifer, Your MC is missing out with the mac & cheese. I just made some killer m&c yesterday! Better as leftovers.

    Dawn, I've enjoyed finding so much in common w/ my online writing friends.

    Beth, I felt she looked like me too, but no...not me. I agree w/ your acting.

    Stephanie, Copy away. Allowed. Very few rules here.

    Karen, I'm like your MC in that I'll try just about anything other than Fear Factor choices. ;)

    T.Anne, Must. Read. That. Book.

    Ellie, Right there with you on your saying and your eating. Add that to my list. No desire to eat those unless so much chocolate is poured on them...oh forget it...neh!

    Eileen, When you wake up, you should try it.

    Heather, Our family prefers to word toot. And now the world knows. What is hominy? Going to look it up.

    Cindy, I'm already into your MC. It's fun to learn even more. Love your action/excerpt days.

    Erin, I will look them up.

    Jeanette, I might have to try a sea slug. Just to say I tried one. Yup.

    Elizabeth, I was at the dentist today! Fun. Hope you learn something new.

    Jill, It made me sad to read your MC's thinking. But at the same time made me want to read about her all the more.

    Melissa, Hope you thought about it.

    Busy, rushing around type of day. Thoughts are with family. Bummed Flash Forward is done for the season.

    Thankful for the dialogue here.
    Thankful that God makes all things new (been thinking a lot about this lately).

    Sleep confident of His love.
    ~ Wendy

  30. One of the things we were taught at the ACFW conference is the tension that can be put into a plot once you've established what your MC's "must do" is, what the "can't do" is, and what happens when the two clash.

  31. That was a good idea, Wendy. Thanks for the thoughts. Here are mine:

    I wouldn't be caught dead:

    Saying: There is no God
    Thinking: I never want to travel again.
    Watching: Nothing on tv but football
    Acting: Like I want to lose my freedom
    and go to prison
    Eating: Liver, raw or cooked
    Playing: With guns
    Reading: Anything about the occult

    Hope you have a great day and have many more comments answering the questions! Love the picture in front of the windows at the top of your blog. Sincerely, Susan from


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