Friday, September 21, 2012

Creative writing exercises

Character building

Building good characters

Getting to know your characters is fundamental to your ability to be able to write out their stories in a more believable fashion. After all if you know everything you can about the people that populate your tales then it stands to reason that they would be more realistic to your readers, which in turn will hopefully make them memorable.

Some of the good ways to get to know your characters:

1.       Journal

Write a journal, but instead of what is happening in your everyday life, write about your main characters thoughts and feelings. Start with the everyday before your story starts, what where her or his motivations before the story, how did their relationships play out, not just romantically but relationships at work and with family and neighbours.

As your story starts and conflicts enters in keep track of your characters thoughts and feelings on the events that are surrounding them. By keeping this journal up to date, you may be surprised on what you learn about them and how this can and will add to your overall story.


2. letters


 Using the point of view of your protagonist (main character, often the hero) Write a letter to yourself, with the character introducing themselves, have them describe themselves, their motivations and the goals they would like to achieve and what they think of the other main characters.  After this is done write another letter, this time from the antagonists (the villain) view point.
Remember as you write to keep to the tone and speech patterns of each distinct individual different This is a  great character building exercise which will help give you insight to how the characters think of themselves and how they wish to be perceived


3. Interview

A very common but effective method of getting to know your characters can be by creating a mock interview with them. Imagine that they are literally in front of you applying for a job be it for their current career or the job of being the main character of your story.
The more questions you ask the better, as each question should reveal more and more about your main characters. (This can also be done to a lesser degree with the smaller support cast of characters from your story if you feel it needs to be done.)
Some sample character building questions to get you started
1.        What are your religious beliefs?
2.       What is your family background like?
3.        What previous jobs have you held and why did you leave them?
4.       What is your romantic history like?
5.       Do you have any pets?
6.       What are your five best traits?
7.       What are your three worst traits?
8.       What is it that you think you can bring to this Job/ story?
9.        If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?
10.   Who do you trust most?
11.   What schooling have you had and where?
12.   What is your most treasured dream?
These are just a few questions you can bring to the interview I suggest writing out at least 20 and keeping a record of all the answers for future reference .

4.       Body language

The experts of communication have often said that 95% of all human communication is done through body language, which leaves only 5% of our interactions relying on the spoken word. Every person has a way of being in the world, a way that their mannerisms effect how they interact with others in a positive or negative way. And it is important that you take this into account when writing your fictional characters.

Write a scene with one of your main characters where they are unable to communicate verbally with another character, focus on expressions and body movement from the large to the small they are all helping the character get her intent across.
A great writing exercise to help you focus on what is being said without words…

5.       Conflict

Conflict is a huge tool to all writers; it keeps the story moving forward, giving the characters something to strive against and the reader a reason to keep turning those pages to find out what happens next.
But unless you the writer, are comfortable putting your characters in adverse situations, conflict can become a block, stalling the story and keeping your character from growing.
A great way to get used to conflict and explore how your character will react is to write it out. Create an argument between your main character and someone she or he is close to, where both characters feel they are in the right,

The point to this creative writing exercise is to explore how your main character deals with frustration, being told they are wrong and how if they can resolve this conflict with the person they care about.
I really do hope that some of these character building exercises aid in your creative writing journey J
Happy writing


  1. I love your writing tips, your website is the bomb!

  2. Thanks I am so glad that you got something from my writing tips :) And I am thrilled that you enjoyed my little corner of the web :)