Red Velvet Armchair: Using the Furniture Game for Characters and Confidence
Playing can develop our confidence by helping us feel we have control over our world. And just as importantly, it teaches that life can be fun. But as adults we often don't play enough. "There are more vital things to be done!" we tell ourselves. Yet psychologists like Jean Piaget have argued that play is vital to development. Well, if this is true, then surely it can help us develop our craft as writers too. (For more about the psychology of play, check out The Atlantic.)
I'm a big fan of The Furniture Game, which I learned when I was teaching in British high schools. When a sixteen year-old who hates school, loathes English lessons, and has rock-botton self-esteem becomes desperate to work out which piece of furniture Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth would be, you can't really miss the significance of the task.
(The boy I'm thinking of decided on an iron maiden, I seem to remember, arguing that the torture device was indeed furniture. I enjoyed his answer! But I digress.)
If you're at a tricky point with your characters, or you're finding yourself bogged down by your writing, I recommend playing The Furniture Game. You don't just have to limit the game to furniture. You can ask yourself (or indeed each other) any questions you like, as long as they're along these lines:
If your character were a piece of furniture, what piece of furniture would they be?
If your character were a fruit, what fruit would they be?
If your character were a famous piece of art...?
If they were an animal, a meal, a building...?
You get my drift, of course.
It can be fun to write your answers down whenever they come to you. And you can even create a collage of your "Furniture Game" character using magazine clippings etc. once you have a few answers--this can be a fun way of encapsulating their energy, their make-up.
And feel free to comment below on what your character would be if they were a piece of furniture, a fruit, a dessert, an animal, and so on. I look forward to reading!
Sue Williams is co-founder of Here Booky Booky (herebookybooky.com) where authors' works are made into beautiful books. With a background in psychology, education, and online marketing, she is an instructor and confidence coach at Grub Street and has published her short stories at a variety of magazines and journals including Narrative (where she also worked as an editor), Salamander, the Yalobusha Review, and elsewhere. Under her pen name, Sue is agented, has published a novel and several collections, writes columns on sexuality and spirituality, and also runs an indie press. As Sue, she works as a marketing assistant for branding and marketing expert Dorie Clark, and also coaches writers who are looking to build their confidence and platforms. Find out more at www.herebookybooky.com and www.suewilliams.co.ukSee other articles by Susan Williams