Character Development

Do The Unexpected

Humans are highly resistant to change — for a character to believably undergo a personal journey that substantially alters them, something HUGE and specific must happen to them. This event doesn't have to happen in your story, but once you can identify your character’s limits, you can determine what is required to create a potential change in their fundamental nature.

For this exercise, determine what this catalyst for change might be by considering situations or attributes that feel counterintuitive. For instance, if your character is a Good Samaritan, it is unlikely they would commit a crime. What would have to be at stake for this unlikely situation to happen — and for a core part of your character to change?

Discuss this exercise

Feel inspired? Share your story below.

Similar Exercises

Get your creative juices flowing with these similar creative writing exercises.

Character Development

The Hook

What is your story’s hook? Analyze your opening scene and identify the implicit but specific question it encourages readers to ask. Is this question in the first paragraph or, better yet, the first line? How …

Character Development

The Power of Words

Write a list of random, free-association words. For creative writing, list ten words across ten columns. Then go to each column and add nine more words so that the result is ten columns and ten …

Character Development

Talent Show

Your protagonist has been asked to showcase a little-known, unusual talent at a community fair’s talent contest. Begin on stage and show not only the performer but also the crowd’s reaction to this talent unveiling.

Character Development


“Gossip, as usual, was one-third right and two-thirds wrong,” wrote L.M. Montgomery. Improvise a gossipy dialogue between two characters (Character A and Character B) about your protagonist (Character C). If these fractions are followed, what …

Character Development

Clue Hunt

The best way to learn is by reading, so pick up a book that had a plot twist that surprised you and yet felt right. Look for subtle foreshadowing in it. Start at the beginning …

Character Development

Letter to My Younger Self

Your protagonist sits down at a desk and begins penning a letter to his or her younger self. What would they tell their past selves? What regrets do they voice? What lessons have they learned? …