About this exercise:
For your characters to come alive for your readers they have to come alive in your mind. You have to be able to picture them – their faces, their quirky habits their dreams and their fears. The better you know them, the more real they will feel to your readers. Starting with what you know already is a good first step.
Time: 20 minutes
Make a list of the three most interesting people and animals you know or have come across in your life. Don’t worry if they are quite ordinary, those are often the best characters. It could be someone you know really well like your favourite barmy uncle or a strange woman with curly blue hair you once saw on the train who has stuck in your head ever since.
For each character, write down four details:
A made up name (you’ll get in trouble if you use their real name).
The most interesting thing about them (it could be something about their physical appearance, the way they speak, a particular habit or skill).
Something made up that is consistent with who they are but makes them that little bit more interesting.
iii) Refuses to speak.
iv) Speaks to animals.
Decide which of the three characters would most interest a reader and would work best in a story.
Write a description of your chosen character walking down the street. Use the third person. Only write one paragraph. Try to communicate a bit of what makes this character fascinating. Don’t tell us that they are interesting, show us through their appearance, their movements, their words, how they relate to others etc.
Use this exercise to develop a character in an existing story or novel.
Turn this paragraph into a story: where does your character go next and what happens to him?