Creative characterization

John Gardner speaks of a “Smoke” game. You figure out what kind of smoke is character? What kind of house? etc. food, clothing, building, city, plant, tree, car, etc..

I believe it is an old guessing game like twenty questions. I come up with a list of characteristics about a person. “I’m thinking of a man who is thick, gray smoke.”

Just jotting down these characteristics gives you a poetic description of your character. You can even use some of the words when you speak about the person. Here’s a small sample:

Smoke light, broken thick, gray
House stylish, new heritage
City small town farm
Tree Mountain Ash Oak
Fabric velvet jeans
Food fresh fruit steak
Car new, sporty older, comfortable
Wind strong, gusty steady breeze
Sea stormy calm

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