On Writing: Getting To Know Your Characters

When getting to know your characters, a plethora of character questionaries exist with very basic information such as age, hair color, eye color, height, weight, birthday… blah, blah, blah.

Is this information important? It can be, depending on your genre and personal preference with what you’d like to include. You don’t have to include information like how tall your character is. If you’re brave enough, you don’t even have to include hair color or eye color and just leave it up to the interpretation of the reader.

I think it’s very important to get to your characters extremely well. Not necessarily so you can toss in these bits and pieces of random information throughout your novel, but to know your characters in order to better understand them.

Why do they act a certain way under pressure? Do they avoid certain situations because of past experiences? What makes them tick? Why do they do the things they do?

Answering basic questions for your reader doesn’t bring your character to life on the page. The last thing you want is a character that doesn’t feel real. So, I’ve included some of my favorite ways to get to know your characters in this post! Who’s excited? Me!

Let’s go!

Character Questionaries

Yes, I realize that I JUST implied that character questionaries are useless, but I need you hear me out. One of my favorite character questionaries comes from Gotham Writers.

This character questionnaire definitely includes the basics, but it also includes a list of unconventional questions to ask about your characters. For example: What is in your character’s refrigerator right now? On her bedroom floor? On her nightstand? In her garbage can?

These questions are tough to answer, but are SO helpful in getting to know your characters! This is one character questionnaire that I highly recommend.

Challenge Your Characters

Another way to really get to know your characters is to challenge them and put them under pressure. I adopted these scenarios from Reedsy, which ultimately test your character’s underlying morals. For example, I’ve included the Robin Hood Problem below.

“The Robin Hood Problem”

Your character is an eyewitness to a crime.

A man has robbed a bank, but instead of keeping the money for himself, he donates it to an orphanage that can now afford to feed, clothe, and care for its children. You know who committed the crime. If you go to the authorities with the information, there’s a good chance the money will be returned to the bank, leaving a lot of kids in need. What does your character do?

Will your character choose to turn the robber in because stealing is wrong, or will they choose to keep quiet because the money is going to a good cause?

Depending on how your character reacts, you can use this information to analyze your character’s morals and what is important to them. Check out the rest of the scenarios, linked above!

Explore Your Character’s Zodiac Sign

Again, you don’t have to state your character’s birthday within your novel if it isn’t relevant, but having an idea of their zodiac sign could help you get to know your characters better!

For example, India’s birthday falls in February, making her an Aquarius. An Aquarius is known for marching to the beat of their own drum, but are often considered to be a bit of a paradox. They’re highly individualistic, but are incredible when forming friendships.

I developed India’s character before reading up on her zodiac sign, and I was shocked by how accurately the profile fit her personality.

Seriously, give this a try 🙂

Pinterest Boards

I’ve spent way too much time on Pinterest since creating boards for my characters. So far, I only have a board for the two main characters, but I’m hoping to create a board for the secondary characters within the novel in order to get to know them better too!

Pintrest is an incredible resource in piecing together the visuals for your character. Here is India’s character board:

I have so much fun making these and highly recommend giving it a try!

Let me know in the comments below what your favorite activities are when getting to know you’re characters or if you can see yourself using these ideas! 🙂

#writing #author #india #character #novel


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