In the writing book for young writers Spilling Ink (which I love, by the way!), the authors introduce the idea of having a "slumber party" with your characters. Basically, the idea is to sit down with your characters and ask them a series of questions. Jot down what you notice about them and everything they tell you.
The purpose is to really become best friends with your character. It will show how they react to certain situations, talk, etc. This exercise is perfect for when you're trying to find your character's voice. It works well to do it even later in the book to help fill gaps you didn't even notice were there.
These 50 questions will help you get a clear idea of your character's appearance, morals, quirks, and motives. Basically, by the end of your sleepover, you're going to know everything about your main character...which will really help improve your writing! Here are 50 questions to help you pull off the best writing sleepover. Pull out your writing utensil of choice and follow these instructions. Remember...write everything down!
First, sit down with your character and really take in their appearance. Jot down everything you notice.
What are the basics of your character's appearance? Their hair, eye, and skin color, etc.
Now give their features a little backstory. What traits did they inherit from their relatives?
What traits might they be insecure about?
What features are their favorites?
What sort of clothing is your character wearing?
What does their clothing reveal about them? For example, comfy clothing might portray their laid-back personality or a paint-smeared top will show his or her's artistic side.
What little details about their appearance can you throw in there? Try to look for things with significance, even if it's very slight. For example, chipped nail polish might show that this person isn't afraid to work or that they're just lazy.
How is their facial expression and body language?
How would they react to sitting across from you?
Start chatting with your character. What are some of the first things you notice?
Do they have any nervous habits that pop up as they speak?
What about phrases they use a lot?
Now start to interview your character and ask them these questions: What's your full name?
What name do you like to go by?
Is there a name someone calls you that you hate?
What's your family like?
Do you get along with your family?
What family member(s) are you closest to?
What family member(s) do you have the most trouble with?
What do you normally do after school/work/when the day is done?
What activity relaxes you the most?
What person relaxes you the most?
What's something that makes you nervous?
What do you do when you're nervous?
What's the thing that makes you the most scared?
Do you worry about the future a lot?
Do you like your day-to-day routine? (School, work, etc.)
Are you religious?
Do you have any hobbies?
What's one food you hate?
What's one food you love?
What does your room look like?
Do you have a favorite song or band?
If you could speak to any person right now, who would you speak to?
Who or what do you miss the most?
What do you daydream about?
Are you more often busy or bored?
Are you in a romantic relationship?
Are you happy with the relationships in your life?
Are you stressed out or carefree?
What's something you probably know is true...even if you always try to deny it?
Who is your best friend?
If you were in the worst trouble of your life, who would you call?
Who do you live with?
Where do you live?
What's something that drives you crazy about the person you live with? Or what's something that drives you crazy about living alone?
Describe the inside of the place you live.
Describe the outside of the place you live.
What's something that drives you crazy where you live?
And finally the big whammy...the most important question:
What do you want the most in the whole world?
Ask your character these questions and try to get to the root of what each answer can reveal about them. Pay attention to the way it makes them squirmish to talk about certain subjects or how different ones make them light up.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that you were able to get to know your character a little better! Let me know in the comments if you liked this writing exercise. Ciao, Zoe.
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