Developing Characters

THREE EXERCISES TO TRY 

  • Quiz your character:

Try answering questions about your character. Knowing the ins and outs of how think they and behave will help you create a 3D character that feels authentic. There are lots of interview-style questions on the internet. Here are some from Writer’s Life.Org: https://www.writerslife.org/10-questions-to-ask-your-characters/ 

1. How old are they and do they act their age? Do they mind being that old? Perhaps they are old before their time? 

2. What was their childhood like? How do they get on with their relatives? Are their parents still alive, and if not what happened? 

3. What kind of relationships do they have with others? Do they have a partner, and if so is it a happy relationship? Do they have lots of friends or are they more of a recluse? 

4. What hobbies and passions do they have? Find out what they love to do. 

5. What makes them happiest? 

6. What makes them most afraid? What makes them angry? 

8. What was the best moment of their lives? What was the worst? 

9. Their biggest secret? and who knows it? 

10. Can you describe them in one word? 

  • Talk to your character:

Close your eyes. There is a door in front of you. What’s the door like? Is it old/ new? Does it creak? What about the handle?

As you open the door, on the other side… is your protagonist! What are they doing? What are they wearing? How do they act? What do they say?

Write out the dialogue you have with one another as a free writing exercise. This is another way of bringing depth to your character. 

  • Find similar characters:

Look through newspapers and magazines for faces, hairstyles, expressions, creatures that are like your character.

Or, if your character was in a film, who would play them?

One of my unpublished picture books that featured a goat, had an uncanny resemblance to Eddie Murphey’s Donkey in Shrek!

Sometimes characters are a mix of personalities/people. Why not make a collage or mood board?