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Similar exercises

Get your creative juices flowing with these similar writing prompts.

#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.

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.

In The Eye of the Beholder

Our individual perspectives define what we first notice about a person's physical appearance. How do your characters see those around them? Describe one character's physical appearance from the perspectives of three other characters. What does each beholder's description reveal about who they are?

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But Why?

Keep asking your characters why. Here's an example:

  • Why are you grumpy? I have a hangover.
  • Why do you have a hangover? My friend was in a bad accident and I thought he might die?
  • Why did you think he might die? His girlfriend lied to me about how serious the accident was.
  • Why did she lie about that? She's jealous of our relationship.
  • Why? I think she's insecure and has trust issues.
Do you see how much that question will dig into a character?

Somewhere Familiar

Are you finding it difficult to get to know your fictional characters and/or differentiate them from yourself? Try this: Choose a character from your project and let her/him take a walk into a place you know well. Then describe this place from this character's perspective and ask yourself:

  1. What does (or doesn't) s/he notice?
  2. How does s/he feel about what she notices?What thoughts do the things s/he notices trigger in her/him? This can be memories, social critique, enjoyment or disgust etc.
  3. How do your character's impressions of, and responses to, the place differ from yours?