If you haven't taken enough time to get to know your main character, you can struggle with their motivations, actions, and decisions within the story. They can be flat and not flushed out enough to maintain any interest with your reader. If you think you have an underdeveloped character, we can help. Here are six fun and intriguing questions to ask yourself in order to learn more about your main characters.
Given the choice to dine with anyone alive right now, whom would your character like to share a meal with?
Would they pick their idol? Or maybe someone from their childhood. Where would they want to eat? What meal of the day would they pick? What is their favorite food? How would the conversation go? What would they talk about? Write the entire scene you see and how it unfolds, let the character reveal themselves to you through this interaction.
If a crystal ball could tell your character the truth about anything, what would they want to know?
A crystal ball is going to tell your character a truth, what is the most important truth to them? Do they want to know how they die? How about asking for their one true love? Maybe they want to know their purpose in life. Revealing an important truth for your character will help shed light on their desires, dreams, ambitions, and internal principles.
What is your character’s worst memory?
Is there a memory your character can not let go of? What life event affected them in a negative (or positive) way moving forward? Did they hurt themselves in an accident? Can they describe the memory in detail years later? Is there a central individual that the story surrounds? Whatever your main character's worst memory is, how does it affect or relate back to the story you are writing?
What is something you like about your character?
What can you appreciate and admire about your character? Is their moral compass inspirational to you? Do you like their sense of fashion or style? Do you like how they treat others? Maybe there is nothing to like about your character and you like that quality about them!
Alright, I'll stop. Whether your character is likeable or not, try finding something you can connect with in inside your characters. After all, they did come to exist because of you, right?
What is one personal problem that your character is struggling with at the moment?
I like this question because it can reveal a lot about your character. In life, we all have problems that are personal to us and as we get older, the problems can change over time. Maybe your character is a teen who is struggling to find out who they really are; a man in his fifties experiencing a midlife crisis could have some personal demons to deal with. Did your character discover they have powers? Can they tell anyone, if not, why? Whatever personal problem your character faces, understand how it relates or impacts the story you are writing so that it remains relevant and gives a little more depth to your character.
What roles do love and affection play in your character’s life?
Is your character a lone wolf who holds nothing and no one close to their heart? Did they get burned in the past and that is why they choose a life of isolation? Maybe your character uses charm and romance to manipulate the people in their life to do their bidding. Is your character a sunflower? A character who brings out the best in people; someone who loves and roots for all the people they come across in life with unconditional support. However your character uses love in their life, understanding the role love plays will help you discover more about their personality and potentially their character choices.
No matter what character you are working on, if you need to understand and relate to them more, questions like these will help walk you through getting to know your character. They may seem silly as you fill them out but they can help inspire motivations and connections between your characters.
And if these examples aren't helping you, imagine this: if someone was getting to know you, what questions would you want them to ask? I salute you on your quest to develop your characters to their fullest potential.
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Breanna Bartels is a creative exploring all her new interests in life. She is an avid book lover and a photographer and videographer with her own company, Candid Mirth. In the spaces between art and work, she is venturing into writing. She prefers a used book to a new one and has fanatical plans to own a used bookstore one day. When she isn't home attempting some new venture, she enjoys camping and hiking with her husband, Danny, and their two dogs. Reach out to her for creative opportunities or to discuss a good book! You can find her many projects here.