Character Exercise One

I don’t know if there will be further character exercises, but during a conversation at work today I imagined combining Stockholm Syndrome with what I’ll call addictive personality disorder.

From Wikipedia: “… Stockholm syndrome is a psychological state in which the victims of a kidnapping, or persons detained against their free will — prisoners — develop a relationship with their captor(s). This solidarity can sometimes become a real complicity, with prisoners actually helping the captors to achieve their goals or to escape police.”

There is some debate as to whether Addictive Personality Disorder is real, but for the purposes of this exercise, I define it as follows: A psychological state in which a person is inclined to addiction, whether to substances, people (personality types) or situations.

Combining the two, we have a person who has been involved in some manner of hostage situation during which he or she developed a relationship with and/or sympathized with his or her captors. After the situation is resolved (whether peacefully or otherwise), the person returns to his or her routine. Now, however, when our character waits in line at the bank to make a withdrawal, they hope that men wearing ski masks and brandishing automatic weapons will storm the bank. They yearn to hear a voice behind them demand that everyone lie face down on the floor. Our character never uses the drive-up window or an ATM. They insist on entering the bank at every possible opportunity in the hopes of being held hostage at gunpoint.

At work, our character scrutinizes his or her co-workers, trying to determine which of them is most likely to snap and show up at work with a high-powered rifle. Perhaps they even attempt to push the most promising of these unsuspecting individuals over the perceived “edge.”

Now that I’ve built certain aspects of the character’s personality, the exercise part (at least for me) is to write a scene or a short story featuring the character, filling in the rest of their personality and creating a situation in which their (hopefully) unique flaw is developed or revealed. I’ll post the result in the near future.