My plot’s going nowhere.
I can’t seem to get past chapter three.
Think it’s a plotting problem?
Well, it might be but most of the time it’s a character problem.
You’ve spent weeks working on your plot but haven’t given any thought to the type of person or persons who will live your plot.
A plot can’t exist without characters to live it.
The people who take your reader by the hand and say, come along with me, I’ve got this great story to show you.
Some people struggle with creating characters but for some it’s second nature. Either way, here are some exercises for you to try using your intended character.
They all serve one purpose and that’s for you to get to know them better. The better you know that character, the easier it is to write your story because you know them like an old friend, Their wants, their quirks, what drives them on, what drives them crazy, and how they react in any given situation.
Strangers in the Night
Imagine you and your character have never met before but you get stranded someplace or have to spend a few hours with them. Maybe in the waiting room of a hospital or waiting for your vehicles to be towed when you both hit ice and slide off the road. Use this exercise to start up a conversation. How does it actually start and who starts it? What do you talk about? What do you think about this person? Where does the conversation head? How do you say goodbye?
Imagine you’ve done something that makes your character angry. Maybe you’ve taken their parking spot or driven over their prized flower collection in their front yard. What do they say to you and how do they react? Are they aggressive or do they take a more subtle approach?
Your Character Becomes Your Favorite Character
We all have favorite characters in books so pick one and replace your own character with him or her. Choose a scene and rewrite it using your own character. How are things different in regards to dialogue and outcome?
First and Third Person
Take a chapter that you’ve already written that features your character and if it’s in first person change it to third and vice versa. What does your character reveal in each scenario?
Imagine your character five or ten years from now. How do you envision them? Do they live in the same place, have the same friends? Married, divorced, children maybe. Changed jobs, changed careers?