quaranTEEN voices Writing Prompt: ‘Getting Into Character’


May 18, 2020


Special guest author Lilliam Rivera joins us for this week’s quaranTEEN voices! Lilliam is an award-winning author whose work draws from the lens of her own identity: a Puerto-Rican, Bronx-native, and Latinx woman. She’s written middle grade and young adult novels such as Dealing in Dreams, The Education of Margot Sanchez, and the forthcoming Never Look Back.

Join us as Lilliam shares her journey as a writer and answers your questions! You can even share your work with her if you like! Sign up HERE!

From Lilliam Rivera:

Whether the setting is a futuristic world where girl gangs rule or a supermarket in the Bronx, I always start my work with the character. What is this person seeing and how are they interacting in their new “world?” Conflict can be found in a setting, in the walls that seem to be caving or in a vast park where the forest holds so many unknowns. The prompts below will help you dig deeper. Try to insert your character in uncontrollable situations and see what happens. I think your characters will surprise you by how they react and interact with others!


Prompt 1
Imagine your main character is stranded with a small group of people in an unfamiliar place. What type of place is it (a forest, a desert, an island, etc.)? Describe the setting in detail, using the five senses in your description. Then, imagine the group of people with your character. Are they friends? Strangers? Write a scene—with dialogue—where they talk to each other and have to decide how to get out safely. Can they work together or is there conflict? Make sure to include your characters’ inner thoughts—how do they think and feel about the other people and the situation?

Revision for Prompt 1
Add another character into the mix! Imagine you and your group stumble upon a stranger while navigating their way out. What are they doing when you come across them, or do they approach you? Does this person seem shady or trustworthy? Write a scene where you and your group try to get a read on this character. Does your character’s group welcome this new person, or are they dangerous?

Prompt 2
Write a scene describing a conflict you’ve had with a friend, or a group of friends, that has since been resolved. Try to convey what happened without explicitly telling the reader. What emotions were you feeling? What were you thinking about your friends during this time? How did you come to the realization that the conflict needed to be solved, and how did you go about it? Alternatively, you can write the scene the way you wish it happened rather than how it actually did.
Revision for Prompt 2
Write the scene from the perspective of your friend(s), focusing on their inner thoughts and emotions. How is their perspective different from that of your character? Think about your own actions during this time and how they were perceived by your friends. What did they do in response? Did you learn anything new about either yourself, your friend, or the conflict?


Be sure to sign up for our newsletter HERE to receive weekly prompts and other virtual youth writing opportunities right to your inbox! On Wednesday we’ll send out a few ideas to help you revise your pieces. Sign up to talk to Lilliam Rivera and share your writing with other quaranTEEN’s on Friday HERE!