What makes a story? The plot or the characters? It can go either way, but if you’re lucky than the two elements work together to create a gripping novel for your reads. In drafting my third novel I’ve fallen in love with character profiling. I’ve done it in the past, but I was never a fan. The prompts are great to help you figure out who your characters are, but they don’t always help you move forward in plot. Instead you end up with a lot of backstory you now feel obligated to fit into your story.
I was able to come up with a few prompts that personally helped me develop my characters for novel #3, but it did more than just that. The questions below should help you brainstorm essential traits in your characters that will drive the story forward. Maybe you’ll answer the question and realize Sammy has a lot of attitude. What is she going to do to piss everyone else off in the story? Or what about Nancy? She had a divorce. What happened to her ex-husband? Is he going to show up again? Rocky and Willow hang out a lot. They’ve best friends obviously, but how did they meet? What the one thing that could tear them apart?
See what I’m going far? Go really behind the scenes. Shack things up a bit. Sit down with one of your characters now and ask them a few of these questions:
- What’s their biggest fear? What’s the one thing that will tear them apart?
- Got the answer? You should probably work it into the story somehow.
- What are they trying to accomplish?
- Let them get really close to accomplishing it. Then, you know, take it away.
- How are the associated with other characters?
- I know Rock and Willow met at a bar, but what is it about their two personalities that brought them together?
- What past event has caused them to be the person they are today?
- Is Sammy a bitch because of something that happened in high school? Maybe something that ruined her reputation? Now what if that little incident popped up again? Now that would be fun…
- What’s their tipping point?
- Make them reach their tipping point.
And of course you should probably figure out what your character looks like, but that’s not as exciting.