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Similar exercises

Get your creative juices flowing with these similar writing prompts.

A Tall, Dark Stranger

Write a scene where your character is speaking to a complete stranger. Immediately after, write a scene where your character is speaking to a loved one. Notice how their behavior changes.

Fear Factor

Nothing can create conflict for your characters like good old-fashioned fear. Take time now to define your protagonist's biggest fear. Is it something physical (e.g. tight spaces or flying in an airplane) or internal (e.g. fear of failure, commitment, or rejection)? Write a scene in which your protagonist must face this fear.

What A Character

Memorable characters are ones that mirror real people: their feelings, experiences, needs, and goals. Challenge yourself to get real with your character by first getting real with yourself. Grab a notebook and answer the following questions as they pertain to you:

  • What emotion do you struggle with because you feel it so deeply?
  • What type of situation makes you feel vulnerable or inadequate?
  • What past mistake causes you the most regret?
  • What core moral belief is so ingrained that you live it every day?
These questions require a deep look within and put us in touch with our authentic selves. This is what readers come to the page for, so answer these again, this time as your protagonist. When you finish, think about how you can incorporate some of these vulnerable moments into your story to show readers the deeper side of your character.

#TBT

Create a timeline of the significant moments of your character's life. Like many authors, you can use post-it notes or a big whiteboard to visualize your character's life. You can easily move or add events until you feel your character has a well-developed history. After you've finished the timeline, distill it into the top 5-10 moments that have shaped your character. For instance, if loss is a thematically important part of your book, perhaps a significant part of your character's past is when they lost a grandparent as a child.

The Truth Shall Set Your Characters Free

In order to dive deeper into your character's emotional depths, ask a round of questions - both probing and seemingly innocuous alike. (Hey, you never know when your character's favorite choice of ice cream topping might come in handy!) While we encourage you to build and refine your own set of questions, these questionnaires will provide solid inspiration for now: Arthur Aron's 36 Questions That Lead to Love, and The Proust Questionnaire.