Character building: A scruffy notepad, and a pen with a chewed end

In a world with technology and many popular alternatives to pen and paper, why is the notepad still being used?

Is it a particular brand? Cheap? Plain?

What size? Lined or plain paper?

Why is it scruffy?
– Not cared for? Shoved into pockets? Pieces torn off for phone numbers instead of business cards? Dropped and sat on? Ruffled and forgotten?
– Well-used? Too many notes? Well-thumbed for just that one name, that one detail?

What are the notes inside likes? Sparse notes for show, with the occasional useful word? Lines of text with extra scribbles added in the margins, corners, edges? Are there doodles?

Why is the pen chewed? Force of habit? Nerves? Instead of a cigarette? Trying to look cool?

Is it a cheap biro? An expensive pen? A refillable one – environment-conscious?

What colour? Blue or black? Red? Green?

Has the lid been lost? If so, where’s the pen kept so that it doesn’t leak?

How often is it used? Pulled out every two minutes? Fiddled with and put back? Ignored until that vital piece of information?

…so from the simple start, we actually got quite a lot of character questions!

Based on a quick character blast I did with a friend’s private investigator/detective character – and we then did that for every detail he’d thought of! It created a lot of scribbles and I hope quite a lot of avenues to explore.

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.