I was working on a scene in my WIP, where my MC is captured, and that sparked inspiration for a scene where someone is imprisoned, but we don’t know why (at least not yet). I added some questions after the scene that can help in opening up the character and story:
Sunshine was nonexistent here. It hid behind grey skies—eternally somber. I walked down the length of the fence, my hands brushing against the rusted metal. I missed the sun. Warm rays seemed like a distant dream and that’s what I needed to shake this cold soul alive. The fence came to a corner, and I stopped. This towering metal frame imprisoned me into a solitude I’ve endured for some time.
The salty smell of the sea hung in the air. I swallowed hard and closed my eyes. Flashes of the waves dotted against my imagination as I heard their deafening crashes drifting up from the coast. I couldn’t drink in its glory from my vantage, but I liked to think each wave was calling to me—demanding my freedom.
The waves couldn’t drown out their approach. I heard the heavy steps behind me. I fell to my knees before I even felt their hands on me. Tears wouldn’t come. There just was nothing left to display what was inside, out. But I felt a deep sadness all the same, as wide and wavering as the sea. Forcing me to my feet, the guards jerked me up. One strong grab on each side, and then they dragged me along.
I’ve suffered enough. All I wanted was a small taste of freedom; I hadn’t been outside in two years.
The gravel scraped against my knees and legs, breaking open the skin.
What’s the point of living if you can’t be free?
“What’s the point at all?” I asked. No response from my entourage. I almost risked looking at their faces, but the memory of the pain seared into my senses. That wasn’t a rule I was willing to break again.
The door back to the deteriorating white building buzzed open as the guards neared. My feet stopped dragging against gravel and instead started grinding along rough concrete. Eventually, they slid along hardwood floors polished to a high sheen. They dropped me in a heap, and I lifted my head to look at the white marble columns with streaks of blue in them.
My escorts disappeared back behind the door they brought me in, vanishing to the sound of that familiar buzz. I rolled on my back, trying to ignore the scratches and missing scraps of skin on my leg. I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of seeing me fret over the surface wounds. I glanced up at the ceiling. It was covered in gold sconces dancing with lights that illuminated the emeralds encrusted into the walls.
How long I sat staring like a fool at the ambiance of my prison, I do not know. All the wrongs I’ve done to get here only proved you can’t run from the things you’ve done. No matter how much you’ve changed, you have to pay the price. If I said I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way though, I’d be lying.
- What did the character do to get there?
- Why is this such a swanky-looking prison? Is it a prison?
- If so, how long is the character to remain imprisoned?
- What was the punishment for looking at the guards’ faces?
- Where exactly is the character?
- The character seems to know that whatever they did was worth landing them there, but they feel like they’ve suffered enough and paid the price. So now we have a character that is on the precipice of change/wanting something, which is a great way to open a character. What does the character want to do to escape? If they planned for it to turn out this way, how did they prepare for it?
- What time period is this?
- What society is this character from?
[Featured photo credit: Gigi C.]