My Process: Figuring out my characters

Today is the What’s Your Process blogfest at Shallee’s blog Life, the Universe, and Writing! She has some great suggestions, and there are other participants linked on her blog that I’m sure have lots of great suggestions too, so you may want to go check it out.

After reading Shallee’s posts on her writing process, I realized that my process is still in its infancy. So I think I’m going to get a lot out of this blogfest. But I still have some things to share too.

Recently, I posted this post about plotting out your novel, which describes a little bit of my new-found writing process. But today I want to talk about my process of figuring out my characters.

I’ve discovered that my characters have minds of their own. I may be the goddess of their universe, but they turn into the people they are, sometimes without too much say from me. So I just write and let them turn into the characters they’re going to be.

But I discovered that sometimes I don’t know who they are, even if they seem to. I found some really helpful questions on Carol Lynch Williams’s and Ann Dee Ellis’s blog, Throwing Up Words. These questions help me to really think about my characters and figure out their motivations and personality. I like these particular questions because lots of them are really unique and get me thinking about more than the usual types of characterization. Here they are:

  • Who watches out for your  character?
  • Who is the most important person in your character’s life? Does this person know?
  • What is your character’s best memory?
  • What is your character’s first memory?
  • Worst memory?
  • What sets your character apart from other people? What ticks, habits, routines does your character have?
  • If your character could change one thing about herself, what would it be?
  • What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen to your character?
  • What things are in the desk drawer of your character’s bedroom?
  • What is her favorite piece of clothing? Why?
  • What is the first thing your character wakes up thinking?
  • What breaks her heart?
  • No one is all good or all bad. What are some of your character’s flaws?
  • What are some of the good parts of the ‘bad’ guy in your book?
  • Why has this particular character come out to tell your story?
  • What is your character’s biggest fear?
  • What things would your character never do?
  • What does your character want most?
  • What is she afraid to lose?
  • What will happen if she loses this particular thing?
  • What supernatural being (ghost, vampire, werewolf etc) would your character be and why?
  • Does you character have strong moral fiber? Prove it.
  • Describe, in detail, your character. No clichés please.
  • What has happened in your character’s past to make her who she is today?
  • Who, in your character’s family, is she closest to?
  • Who has harmed her most?
  • Now, have your character write you a letter telling you her darkest secret and why this secret matters.



About Karen Krueger

I write for teens when I'm not chasing after two cute kids. I love to sing and eat cereal (though not at the same time), and I most certainly am not a vampire because I'm addicted to sunshine.
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9 Responses to My Process: Figuring out my characters

  1. Margo Kelly says:

    That’s a fantastic list of questions! Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  2. Elena says:

    Love the questions. I’ll have to try that out.

  3. Elaine says:

    I have used a similar list of question to make sure I understand my characters fully. The characters are the key element in fiction.

  4. Wow, those are some really awesome questions. They really make you think deeply! I might have to steal some of them. 🙂 Thanks for posting!

  5. gabi says:

    I’m loving the list of questions. Definitely going to bookmark this post and come back to it when I need to flesh out a character or two. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sari Webb says:

    Awesome list of questions! I’ll definitely have to try those out some time. Very unique.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Lynda Young says:

    That’s a great list of questions to ask to get to know the characters better.

  8. Great list! I never thought of “Who watches over your character.”

  9. Marieke says:

    I’m a week late, but catching up on this blogfest now after I finally put my own entry up =)

    I love love love those questions 😀

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