The Personification Game!

Hey guys! So recently I’ve noticed how intrigued I am with characters that totally personify some profound or ordinarily vague concept. It’s incredible how we as authors can create characters that are just MADE of hope or peace or distress, without losing the genuine personhood of that character in the process (basically, they’re still complex people but genuinely depict the concept of, say, discontent).

So here’s the game:
I’m gonna say a concept, and you write a max 250 word scene with a character that personifies that concept. The scene can be them doing something, or talking to someone, or even sitting by themselves thinking, so long as the focus is on the character. The idea is to create a character that you think represents all of, or even just one key aspect of the concept you’ve been given.
Be as creative or interpretive with that as you like, there’s no wrong answer. For example, if you think the concept of “contentment” is shown by a character who never dreams at night and doesn’t want to, that’s fine! Hopefully this game will help us all to think about these concepts as we see them reflected in humanity, or failing in that how to unpack an entire character in only 250words.

First concept: “Homesickness”

sounds fun! I’ve hit major writer’s block, and it almost makes me cry that I haven’t written anything substantial for weeks, so
based on characters and places that I’ve been working on on the side: :sweat_smile:

Why is this place always cold?
My shoes click clack against the glass floor, and the gentle hum of magic thrums in my ears. It’s the early morning hours at PAUPA, and judging by the lack of other noise, no one else is up. I suppose it makes sense since we all work at night.
I tuck my numb fingers into my sleeves, rounding on the library. I should start with studying old cases in the area and maps. I don’t want to go in blind when–
I freeze, catching sight of my brother’s flaming orange hair at one of the library desks.
He’s laying his head on the table, facing me. His eyes are closed, and his back rises and falls in slow rhythm.
I hesitate, but I find myself making my way over to him, sitting at the desk beside his.
His expression is smooth, though his lips are frozen in a frown.
I can breathe in his scent at this distance-- a faint, dusty smell that I almost recognize, but it’s too different from dad, from me-- from home.
Maybe mom smells like him, too.
She must.
I can almost remember all of us sitting at the same dinner table, once. Just a vague impression of shared laughs over warm meals, a closeness none of us can feel again.
Wynn shifts, and I jerk back, almost toppling back my chair.
When I realize he’s still alseep, I glare at him, for causing me the extra anxiety.
I stand up, pushing my chair back, and leave quickly afterwards, heading to my room.
I need a couple of extra hours of sleep…

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What’s your concept?

well… the narrator and Wynn are brothers who were separated by their parents, and they hadn’t met for 7 years-ish, before the narrator meets Wynn at an organization called PAUPA that manages disputes between magical creatures and humans…
Well, they both dislike each other, but still, they’re brothers (and now they work and live at the same place), so


No, no, I mean, I want to write something too, you have to give me a concept to personify.

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ohhh I thought we were all writing homesickness

Ok! Then I choose… anxiety!


Wait, are we? I’ll just do both.


It’s so empty.

Even with the swarm of people moving around, it’s empty. Of what? Of people? That’s not it; we have hundreds already, yet this “home” is still missing something. Life.

No amount of paint can hide the grey walls completely. No amount of pillows and blankets can make this place a home. No amount of reassurance and optimism can bring this place back to life. Because everyone’s dead here. They say eyes are the windows to the soul; here, every house is empty.

Our voices cannot raise above a whisper. Our eyes can only drag to below, wondering if there is any fate worse than this. Shuffling around in the halls and eating tasteless food until everything is reduced to ashes.

And me, I’m one of them. Every day I live this nightmare. Every morning I wake up and think that the nightmare’s finally over when they’ve only just begun; when they’re not just imagination, they’re real.

This is reality.

I want to go home.


The noise is a roar now, crashing into my head, like a tidal wave against the shore. My head is swimming and my throat is sticky and I’m catatonic, every muscle frozen. Fight or flight. Except I can’t do either.

She begs me to stay. “Have fun!” She says. I reach for her hand but then she’s gone, into the sea of people, ever-changing and waving and rocking around. And I’m drowning. The breath is gone from my lungs. When I look down this body doesn’t feel like mine.

This isn’t me. I try to float away. To a dream world where I’m all alone and everything is quiet, peaceful, the only sound being the wind rustling through the grass. And everything is perfect.

But when I open my eyes, I’m still here. Frozen. Terrified. Screaming with no sound.

Make it stop.

The next concept is… “grief”.


yeah, this is just fanfiction:
I am so sorry this is twice the word limit, but this is sorta that author’s style, and I got too into it…


When Kitty calls for me again, it’s a gentle tug in my essence, more of a request than a demand for me to push out of the Other World and into the human realm. Of course, I know it’s her right away-- who else would perform such a half-hearted summons? It hasn’t been long since the kid died, so I can guess what this is about.
Still, I show up at my pentacle moaning and groaning (you try working under a snotty little kid for five years straight and save the world with him, and see what it does to you), my essence in acute pain. I can’t even form Ptolemy’s general shape, so I end up going for a cat.
No sooner had I shown up, than Kitty is wrapping her arms around my small form, almost smothering me in a hug. Beautiful colors swirl around her in a bright blanket, though her face still shows signs of wrinkles and old age that comes at the price of stepping into the Other Place.
“Kitty,” I mumble into her shoulder. “If this was anyone else, I would’ve killed them by now.”
Then she’s full-on sobbing-- maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned death when she was probably still grieving for that brat, but she’s holding my frail essence too tightly, and every touch sends a jolting pain through me.
I knew! I knew it was dangerous, I knew you might not come back, but I still let both of you go—” she cuts off, her voice almost a whisper. “We found his body today.”
“And the first thing you do is summon me? You know what I’ve been through? What does a djinni have to do to get a break around here?”
She’s still staring at me with that lost, helpless look, and with a great amount of pain, I wriggle out of her grasp and land on my paws.
“Seriously,” I say, flicking my tail. "I save London, and you can’t let me lie in peace for an age-- "
“The thing is, I’m not even grieving for him,” she says. “I’m not even sad he’s gone. I know I’ve lost so many people to this-- but you know what I felt when they told me he died defeating Nouda? Relief. I felt relieved Nouda was dead, along with most of the magicians in London. That was my first thought, Bartimaeus.”
“Okay,” I interrupt, putting a paw on her knee. “Kitty, you need to calm down. Shock is one of the first stages of grief-- don’t ask me why I know–”
“Bartimaeus,” she says, hugging herself. “Help me.”
I stare at her shaking form, how small she’s become since the last time I’d seen her (which isn’t too long ago, apparently, if they’re only now finding Nat’s body). Her words mean nothing to me, since she ins’t standing in her pentacle giving me charges.
Sighing, I sit beside her, letting the warmth of my fiery essence soak into her.
It’s a while before she stops crying.
“You know,” I say, after a while, cracking a dry laugh. “This is the first time someone’s summoned me just to comfort them…”
Kitty sighs, rubbing at her eyes. “Except for Nathaniel.”
“Well,” I pause, wondering if that was true. He did bind me painfully to this human world for so many years. But his emotions… “Yeah. He was much brattier about it, though.”
Kitty snorts.

I choose playfulness for the next concept!


Is it okay if I do this one?

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sure! anyone can join in

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OK then!

Mariah is ignoring me, and I’m bored as hell.
“Mara!” She turns, looking exasperated. I’ve already called her name about twenty times in the span of ten minutes.
“Cuddle with me.”
“No. I have to get this essay finished for tomorrow or I’m dead!” She slaps her hands down on the keyboard of her laptop. I can tell she’s even more annoyed than five minutes ago.
“But Mara–!” I try again, but I’m interrupted by Mariah, who looks murderous.
“Enough, Pen! I told you I’m trying to finish his essay, which I can’t do because you’re being your old nagging self!”
…She’s never scolded me like that before, so once I get through the shock, I turn around and slide off her bed, ready to pad away back to my own dorm and sulk. There are tears in my eyes. I don’t know why.
I think Mariah notices, because her face softens. “I’m sorry, Penny. I’ve just been under a lot of stress lately. Ms. Burba’s been piling work on me. I didn’t mean to snap, really. Please don’t cry.”
I turn around. Slowly, my face shadowed. Mariah looks a little scared.
“Does that mean we can cuddle?” I pop my head up and look at her eagerly. She looks surprised… but then her face relaxes and she giggles.

Did I do okay?

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so cute.

also, don’t forget to name a new concept!!

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Thank you!!

And yes: I choose awkwardness! (Have fun with that XD)


She bit her lip.
What was she going to say?
She played scenarios over and over again in her head.
“Just walk over to the guy already!” Her friend Emily chided. She was always looking to support Hannah, but she didn’t understand. Emily always knew what to say in every situation, but if Hannah didn’t prepare for this at all, the words that were to come from her mouth were likely to be incomprehensible since her mouth was much slower than her mind. So she learned it was better to think first than go to speak.
She took in a deep breath.
“You got this!” Emily reassured her, but Hannah wasn’t as sure.
All the same Hannah walked up to the boy she had been crushing on for the past year. It seemed like she had no idea what to do with her hands now. Fold them, keep them at her sides, one hand hold the other wrist. She went with the last option.
“Hey,” Hannah greeted. “What’s up?” What’s up?!, she scolded herself for not thinking of anything better.
“Hey Hannah!”
She paused for a moment, steeling herself. “So I was thinking,” she managed and without hesitation blurted out what she came to ask. “I really like you and I was hoping you could, you would want, to um, go to the prom with me.” Her words were quick and partially tumbled out. He seemed surprised, so she also added quickly. “Only if you want.”
Her gaze was held above his right shoulder as she awaited an answer. What she didn’t expect with all her awkwardness in these situations was his response.
With a short laugh, he replied with a grin. “Sure, I would love to.”

for the next concept I choose hope


Lol we were all supposed to do the same concept so that we could get multiple scenes on the same concept, showing the different perspectives and all that, but I love these scenes! You’re all so talented, this is gonna be a great game.

So I guess we can change the rules a bit, everyone write on “Homesickness” “Anxiety” “Grief” “Playfulness” “Awkwardness” or “Hope” for now and tomorrow I’ll post two or three more concepts for everyone to make scenes for. I just really thought it would be cool to see what different scenes we come up with on the same concept everyday. What do you think? Or does everyone want to suggest a new concept after your post?

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“No way!”
Abel turns his back after hearing what Chloe just said.
“No. Can’t you see that I’m a total loser now!? I’m just being a burden to my team, I betrayed the company, I wounded my friends, and you still expect me to save Dean, Simon, and Tara from the hands of that strongass b*tch Margo!?” Abel shouted, everyone gone silent after hearing his words.
“So that’s it?” Cain replied.
“A man who gave up on his despair and let his best friends suffer, is that who you really are!?” Cain shouted in front of Abel’s face.
“What do you know about-”
“Shut the hell up! I totally have no idea who is this so called Abel Firefly, but you still save your dear sister from the Phantom Thieves side with knowing that’ll be a total betrayal for the Marigold! You must have known that real friends won’t leave each other’s ass behind! Listen here, I already lost my entire school! With Bella and Alaric as my remaining dearest, I’m not gonna lose them even if only their half bodies survived! I know deep down you also feel the same. Right now, I’m so sure that you’re their only hope.” Cain pats Abel’s shoulders.
“Right. Sorry that I shouted like that. I should’ve known that they still put hope inside me. Okay, I’ll save them no matter what, but I can’t do this alone, so will you help me?” Abel reached out his hand.
“You don’t need to ask.” Cain said with a smile.



He sat there, alone and cold on the edge of the pier. His eyes were sunken in, his face covered with a scruffy beard that he had not shaved since his daughter, Hannah, had died. Everyday for the past two months Jamie’s weight had dropped, his friends had been pushed away and his guilt had increased. He blamed himself, he should have held her hand tighter, he should have…


He heard his name but he didn’t look. His eyes set on the water below him, where Hannah had drowned. A lump formed in his throat and tears glistened in his eyes. Before that day, he helped Mrs O’Shay with her shopping, would spend time with his family and above anything else, made sure that Hannah had everything she could ever want and showered her with love. Now he cared about nothing and no one. Everyday he sat on the pier and tormented himself, thinking about what he could have done differently… his grief was eating him up.

“Jamie? You need to stop beating yourself up. You need to start looking after yourself…” It was his sister, the only person who stuck by him whilst he pushed everyone else away.

“You have no idea what I’m going through. I can’t do it anymore…” His voice broke, he felt truly alone.

Jas sat down next to him and put her arm around her older brother. He sobbed, really sobbed and Jasmine could not remember the last time she had seen him cry. Jamie, whose arms were covered in tattoos and torso covered in a band t-shirt felt so alone, so isolated. His therapist told him things would get easier. That he needed to go through the five stages of grief. He didn’t believe her, she had never lost a child so how could she know? The man he once was, was gone, eaten up by grief and guilt.

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I love this one, especially how lonely his grief has made him since he believes no one else can understand. Beautiful



Thank you so much. I feel like that depicts to me, what grief is. It’s an individual and lonely process, even though others are also grieving.

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