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Make Friends with Your Characters

Written by Laura FraineLaura Fraine

You’ve written a few chapters of a novel, the start of a short story or a few scenes of a script, and now you feel a bit stuck. It happens. But rather than giving up, maybe you just need to get to know your characters a bit better? Then they will tell you what happens next. So here are a few things to ask….

Mixtapes and playlists

What’s on your character’s iPod? Do they listen to albums from start to end, or are they a playlist junkie? Where are they most likely to listen to music? Do they pretend to like obscure indie but have a secret love of boy bands? Make a playlist for your character and listen to it while you write!

In their bag…

What would your character keep in their bag? Are they a travel pass, lip balm and anti-bacterial hand gel kinda person, or are they more used tissues, bruised apple and Heat magazine? Do they have a diary that they don’t use? Maybe they don’t carry a bag? What does that tell you about them?

Status update

What would your character’s social media profiles look like? Maybe they LOATHE social media and think it’s a total waste of time – or maybe they’re a selfie addict? Maybe they’re a chronic over-sharer or maybe they’re a Facebook lurker? Think about the image they’re presenting to the world via social media and their “real life”- is there a difference between the two? Is that significant?

Hopes and Fears

If your character could go anywhere in the world, where would they go? What’s their dream job? What would they do if they won the lottery?  And conversely, what are they scared of? What is their greatest insecurity? What wouldn’t they tell anyone? Even if these things don’t feature in your story, knowing your character intimately will help you understand how they behave.

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