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Writing assignment: Make your character do something for the first time

We all get into ruts and patterns. What we eat, what routes we take to get to work, and what we do once we get there — routines for going about each part of our day.

Routines have their place. They forge discipline and efficiency. They provide security and order.

But when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Emory University Professor Gregory Berns has researched how people find pleasure. A neuroeconomist, Berns learned in his research that surprises enhance our pleasure in life. Doing things for the first time is a way of being surprised and carries the element of the unexpected. Think about how excited children get when they experience new things for the first time.

Trying something for the first time is a form of risk taking, and Berns says you have to take risks to experience pleasure.

Think about it: Your first kiss or the first time you traveled to a beautiful new place. Or remember the first time you ate a favorite food. Have you ever noticed that some things don’t taste as good the third or fourth time?

Knowing this, try placing your characters in situations where they experience something for the first time.

You just may find it enhances energy and tension, leads to a plot twist, and even spurs your characters to go in unexpected directions.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ruth #

    I love this. Not just for placing characters in writing but also for our own personal lives.

    October 9, 2011
  2. I agree! It’s a good reminder that we have to change things up in life as well as in our writing.

    October 11, 2011

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