Weekend Workout – Precious Objects

There are numerous ways I use objects to discover and express something about one of my characters. If a scene feels stagnant, for instance, sometimes I put a “precious” object in the space so characters can interact with it. The object could become a source of tension between characters who treat the object differently. If a character is alone, he or she can reflect on it. You can use this reflection to reveal backstory and it won’t seem as expository if the object triggers it and becomes a presence in the scene.

For instance, in one of the scenes in INTERGALACTIC, IdoLL goes back to her ship to look for something in her trunk. She’s alone in this scene and I needed to get into her state of mind a bit without getting too “talky.”

I thought, What if the trunk triggered some emotion in her. What kind of trunk would do that? It had to be a precious trunk? Why was it precious?

Through a timed writing exercise, I discovered that the trunk was the only item from IdoLL’s childhood that she still kept. It was a gift from her Dad from one of his lengthy excursions to another galaxy. When she was a child, she used to store all the little repaired housebots in it that her dad fixed up for her.

She’s missing her parents in this scene, but she’s really angry at them at the same time. But I don’t say that, I just have her touch the trunk and remember a little bit about its history. We infer from there how she feels.


Pick a character, any character, and think up (first thought – don’t take too much time) a precious object for that character. If they had to give away all their possessions, it would be the last to go.

1) Set your timer for 7 minutes.

Start at the top of the page with the following startline. My character will never throw (OBJECT) away because . . .

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

2) Go to the center of the previous piece of writing and pull that line out. Set you timer and write for 10 more minutes.

Write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.

3) Set your timer for 15 minutes. This time, write the scene in which that object appears.

If the character is alone use this line: My Character places his/her hand on the OBJECT and . . .

If the character is with other characters, use the line: “Don’t touch that,” My Character says and . . .

If you aren’t working on a particular story, you could simply use this as a creative exercise. Write random objects on pieces of paper and then draw one for each exercise. You could even keep a little bag full of pieces of paper, each with a different object listed on it. (umbrella, drum, coffee mug, little red pillow, etc.)

Pick a character (male or female, adult or child) and write: (OBJECT) is precious to this Character because  . . .  You never know where this could take you. It could actually trigger a new story. That’s the power of precious objects.

Have a great weekend!

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