Michaeline: Let’s Have Fun With Writer’s Block! Strategy #2

Give your characters a new dimension through home puppet theater! (Photo: Michaeline Duskova)

Give your characters a new dimension through home puppet theater! (Photo: Michaeline Duskova)

Today’s strategy: Tunnel under writer’s block with home puppet theater!

Before I started writing for real, I made stories with my sister. During the long summer vacations in Nebraska, we’d watch soap operas in the morning, and in the afternoon we’d hang out in the cool basement with our Barbies and create new stories of betrayal and love and intrigue. We only had one Ken doll, which gave our stories a nice triangle status. After that, we were only limited by our imaginations and our crafting skills. (-: Fortunately, we had very good imaginations.

So, strategy number two for overcoming writer’s block is to create some finger puppets of your problem characters, and let them work their problems out in the fresh air (or dank atmosphere of your basement, as the case may be).

Of course you can draw your characters. I tried doing them on some card-stock, and I may use them. (I’ll fold them, and have them act out their problems on the table.) (-: But my drawing is not ready for worldwide consumption on the internet, so I did the next best thing: I used pics from the internet.

When you are using someone else’s pictures, the important thing is to capture the feeling. You may be very lucky and hit the jackpot on Google Image Search, and find the perfect representation of your character. But it’s very likely that you will not. Don’t worry too much about that – just capture the feeling. You can also alter your image with color, cropping, combining media, and maybe even use a little glitter.

Your character puppets don't have to be fancy. They just have to mean something to you. (Photo: Michaeline Duskova)

Your character puppets don’t have to be fancy. They just have to mean something to you. (Photo: Michaeline Duskova)

I pasted my pics in a Word document, and I sized the pictures so that they were all the same. I think the size can be an important subconscious clue – you may want one character bigger than the other or much smaller to symbolize power dynamics or importance in the story. You may discover that one character just wants to be HUGE, and you can figure out what that means later. Just go with it.

For me, a very important clue was that I wanted both of my female characters to be in green and blue-green. I’m tempted to dismiss the co-incidence by the fact that I really love blues and greens, but my Girls in the Basement are shaking their heads. I don’t know what it means yet, but there’s a very good reason for it. Perhaps they are dopplegangers, or maybe they share a lot of thematic concerns. I pasted a shirt from a catalog onto Olivia so she’d coordinate with Nixie.

Needless to say, while I was searching for good representations of my characters, I saw a lot of other pictures I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. The ones that rang that metaphorical bell went into my story file for future contemplation. I must have added about twenty great pictures today.

Technically speaking, these finger puppets are very simple. I printed the images, cut them out, and glued them onto a band of paper that would fit around my finger with some overlap for glue. (You can also make small slits in the paper and fit them into each other, if you think you’d like to use these characters in a flat collage later, or would like to store them flat.) They are able to stand on their own, so I can use them on my fingers (for two-character scenes with a little more action and finger-waving), or they can play their scenes across my tablecloth. Better than Barbies! Barbies tend to fall over when left to their own devices.

I’ll let you know next week what happened when I played with these guys for a few days. I don’t know if I’ll have a miracle breakthrough in story-plot, but I do know I’m going to have fun, and I’ve already learned some things about my story that I didn’t know.

Whatever you do this week, have some fun doing it!

(P.S. If you missed Strategy #1, you can go back here https://eightladieswriting.com/2016/12/03/michaeline-lets-have-fun-with-writers-block-strategy-1/ and read some of the block-busting haiku and limericks in the comments — and feel free to add your own! We are still reading comments on old posts.)

5 thoughts on “Michaeline: Let’s Have Fun With Writer’s Block! Strategy #2

  1. What a great idea, Michaeline! My friend Jenn is helping me do a mock-up of my (future) book cover for inspiration, but I may have to try this, too. Drop my characters in my purse and pull them out while I sit in the pick-up line at school!

    • (-: I’m rather at the end of my rope. I know there’s a great story here, but I’m having trouble getting it to come out. So far, Jack and Olivia have made kissy-faces (oh, those pre-teen Barbie sessions were so formative!), but I hope over the next few days, I’ll make something happen.

      I think I’m going to make my writing buddy take one of the puppets, and explain her basic character and motivation, and see what comes out of a little brainstorming. She writes from a very different place than I do, so it could be quite interesting! Fortunately, she’s used to my hair-brained schemes, so she shouldn’t be taken too aback by the whole idea.

  2. I love the idea of the finger puppets, Michaeline! Sort of an interactive collage. I think fooling around with the images—not just on your fingers, but finding them, sizing them, adding glitter (!), etc., could really help a person understand who the character is, and then the interacting would add depth to that. Fun!

    • (-: Yeah, I don’t know where the glitter is, and I suspect it would take me four hours to find it. I will pick some up on Monday after work, maybe. I do not think there will be any glitter in the movie version of this, but I think this story calls for glitter — the fantasy fertilizer!

  3. Pingback: Michaeline: Let’s Have Fun With Writer’s Block! Strategy #3 – Eight Ladies Writing

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