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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.

Flowers

Pick one of the following flowers: Camellia, Azalea, Persimmon, Marigold, Holly, Elder, Ulmus, Verbena, Zinnia, Jonquil.Now locate it in the list below to find out the symbolism behind your flower. Write a short story based around that meaning as a theme. Specifically mention your flower in passing in the story at least once.

  • Azalea: Fragile passion
  • Camellia: My destiny is in your hands
  • Persimmon: Bury me amid nature's beauty
  • Marigold: Grief
  • Holly: Foresight
  • Elder: Compassion
  • Ulmus: Royalty, age
  • Verbena: Pray for me
  • Zinnia: I mourn your absence
  • Jonquil: Desire

Sweater

Describe your favorite item of clothing. Is it a favorite because of how it feels, how it looks, or because of an event you wore it to? What do you think the item of clothing shows about you?

Dialogue Only, Please!

Flex the writing muscles in your brain by writing a short story that ONLY uses dialogue. For an extra challenge, introduce and juggle more than 3 characters throughout the course of this story.

Go The Other Way

Choose a random occupation, a random personality trait, and the trait's opposite. Now, outline a train of events that explains how a person of your chosen occupation changes from having the random trait to having its opposite. Let's take, for example: "martial arts teacher," "shy," and "confident." What would make a shy martial arts teacher change into a confident one?Care for a double challenge? Try plotting the opposite path, too: a confident martial arts teacher turns into a shy person. What would cause that? Experiment with unusual occupations and traits to challenge yourself. Find a collection of traits for download at the end of this article.

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.

Change Up The POV

Write about a well-known scene from a popular story - but write it from a new perspective. Write about Romeo and Juliet's death from the perspective of the vial they drink from. Write about the scene where Bilbo finds the ring in¾The Hobbit from the perspective of the ring. Write about the ghost of Christmas Past taking Scrooge on a walk down memory lane from the perspective of the ghost. You get the idea.