Are You A Person, Or A Prop?

I haven’t participated in a writing class in a really long time. A decade, actually. The first go around was strictly online, and the big guy was an infant. He’ll be eleven this year.

Fast forward to 2016. I’d seen some advertising from the local library, offering free writing classes- the most recent one focused on character development and motivation. It was an hour in length, and after dinner, so I figured, why not?

Most of us were packing laptops. A few had pen and paper in hand, taking notes. The instructor had been kind and funny, taking us through a slide show page by page, allowing us ample time to let the information sink in.  Some of what she’d discussed with us, I’d recalled from the deep, dark recesses of my mind. Stuff like reaction and dilemma. Decision. Wants, obstacles, and results, with a smattering of internal and external conflict.

One of the slides merely asked: “Is your character a person or a prop?” And with the question, two photos. On the left, Indiana Jones. On the right, a teddy bear. Our instructor wanted us to be clear on defining our characters, so that they’re real people, with real aspirations/wants/desires, vs. props that are easily thrown away and aren’t worth much to the story.


For this week’s topic, Melissa came up with something really creative. She asked: In the movie INSIDE OUT, Riley had islands that represented parts of her personality (i.e. goofball island, hockey island). What would be FIVE of your islands and what would be featured on those islands? (If you want to include more islands, that’s fine too.) Which totally reminded me of Indiana Jones and the teddy bear.

What parts of my personality, make me… me? What characteristics are completely my own, and mine alone?

I think my own islands would look a little something like this:

Family Island:  I love my family. So much of my life and who I am is comprised of my loved ones. I couldn’t imagine a world without my boys, or my husband, my parents, and the close friends who I consider as family.


Health and Fitness Island: This island would feature beautiful trails, free weights, and a 24-hour yoga session, with the occasional unusual and unique work out routine that I just have to try out, to see if it’s something I’ll stick with or not. Lots of fruit trees and gardens with all sorts of vegetables would complete this island.

Reading and Writing Island:  On one half of the island, books as far as the eye can see, in all genres. You never know when you’re going to feel like a mystery one day, chick lit the next, and of course, everything by Stephen King. On the other half, a nice, quiet place to write and reflect.

Humor Island: This is where I’ll go when I need a good laugh. All of my favorite old-school skits and jokes can be found, movies, tv shows. The inside jokes I’ve had with friends and family, anything I want to always remember and hold onto, can be found on this island.

It’s the pink elephant in the room! Someone out there (and you know who you are) gets this reference.


Adventure Island: This island would feature the places I’d like to visit in my lifetime, or the impending trips planned for myself or my family. I love going on adventures, even if the journey is long, or at times tedious. It’s fun to explore and I’d make sure to have this island connected to Family Island, because I do love traveling with my family.

What islands would you create? What makes you a person, vs. a prop?



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