Elsewhere, I started to share with you an exercise I learned at a local writers’ meeting. If you haven’t followed along, may I suggest you go back to the beginning for the full story? Better still, do the exercise for yourself as you go and find your hidden story waiting to be written.
So on with my story: I now had my character, a black African gentleman by the name of Jabari. He lived in a swanky double-storey home atop a Central African kopje. And in the last post I discovered his story.
At what point did my left brain imaginings and my right brain’s logic intercept in the writing exercise? I can’t really say. As I got to know my imaginary character, I saw him to have graduated from the little ragamuffin of my childhood to a polished, well-off business leader. As I spent time thinking about what could have brought this about, given the conditions of his childhood, I began to see that he had most likely been educated at a mission school.
Somewhere around this point, my right brain chipped in. The only mission school I knew anything about was the Elim Mission, where twelve missionaries and their family members were brutally massacred by the guerilla forces. Suddenly I had my story. I just knew that Jabari had been a little boy, the son of a worker at the mission. I found this an extremely exciting story to write. I saw him as a real tough little guy whose dream was to be a terrorist and carry a gun.
And his choice of name? I have to admit, initially his name was Velapi. I found this in a list of African names and it “sounded” right. However after the story was written, I couldn’t find the meaning to the name. I researched several sites of names, and came across Jabari which means “fearless”. My young hero was indeed fearless—until the night from hell changed him forever.
So, how did your story turn out? This series of exercises can be used for short stories, a novel, or for narrative non-fiction articles. I hope you’ve found them helpful.