In the last post I showed you a way to create a character quickly and easily. Now I'd like to show you one of the ways I get to know my characters. Of course, as I write a book I start to learn things about my characters, but I like to know a bit about them before I begin. So, what I'll often do is answer a few questions. I spend 10 minutes on each question, and the rule is I can't stop writing for the whole 10 minutes. If I can't think of something to write I jot down blahblahblah (etc.) until I do think of something to write. Here are a few of my favorite questions to answer:
What does their bedroom look like?
~I think a bedroom tells you a lot about a person; is the bed made, what posters are on the walls, what's in the closet, what's under the bed, is there a funky smell in there? I want to know as much as possible. J.K. Rowling taught us a lot about Harry Potter by introducing us to his bedroom at the Dursley's house.
What's in their fridge?
~I had a student once who told me the only thing in his fridge that morning was a bottle of mustard. That was incredibly sad to hear, but my writer brain started to wonder what series of events would lead to a fridge containging only one bottle of mustard. Consider what's in the fridge and you'll be surprised what you might learn.
What's the worst thing that ever happened to your character?
~Is the worst thing that ever happened not getting a pony for their 10th birthday? That tells you something. Is the worst thing that they traveled back in time and were almost eaten by a T-Rex? That would need some explaining.
Do they have any scars?
This is my favorite question because scars almost always have a good story attached to them. I have lots of scars. I have one on my cheek that I got when a big St. Bernard jumped on me as a kid and ripped open my cheek. I have one on my chin that I got when a guy slid into me playing soccer, my chin split open and his forehead split open. I think I got the better deal. I have one on the bridge of my nose that I got when a speaker fell off a shelf and landed right between my eyes. That's a great story that I can't share, but trust me, it's a doozie.
Try to answer those questions and see where it takes you. Sometimes they can lead to interesting side stories. Remember, have fun!