How to Get to Know Your Main Character – Part 2

Last week we learned some basic things about our main character. Now we have to look beyond the mask.

We have to look not just at the face our main character presents to the world, we have to look at who they really are.

Now we’re going to delve deep into our main character’s mind, thoughts and beliefs. This interview session may make them quite uncomfortable…and may be quite revealing to you, their creator.
The interview continues:

  1. Do you have any special belief systems?
  2. What do you look for in a friend?
  3. What do you look for in a partner?
  4. What are your talents and skills?
  5. Do any of these talents or skills have a down side?
  6. What are the things you like most about yourself?
  7. What are the things you like least about yourself?
  8. What was your first sexual experience?
  9. How did you feel about it?
  10. How would you describe your childhood?
  11. What are some experiences from your childhood that have affected the sort of person you are now?
  12. How do you feel about discipline?
  13. Are you someone who fits in with society or someone who fights it?
  14. How would you spend a typical day?
  15. What do you want more than anything in the world?
  16. What is the best thing that could happen to you?

In this session of getting to know my main character, I start to think about the qualities that define them.
For example, they might strongly believe in ‘truth’ – honesty could be a fundamental element of their belief system – a part of who they are. I look at the reverse of this quality and its implications.

What if they were too honest? What if they confessed to something that they should have kept quiet about?

A character’s strongest quality can also be the thing that brings them undone.

Here’s what I mean:
REVERSE CHARACTER TRAITS
There are two sides to every character traits

GOOD THINGS ABOUT CERTAIN TRAITS

  • Perfectionist – things get done properly
  • Super responsible – makes someone reliable
  • Family loyalty – helps family
  • Keeps their cool – useful in a crisis
  • Predictable, reliable – makes people comfortable around her.
  • Strong moral values – makes a character trustworthy
  • Intense – makes character focussed
  • Bossy – gets things done

BAD THINGS ABOUT THESE SAME TRAITS

  • Perfectionist – compulsive behaviour, causes stress
  • Super responsible – unable to have fun
  • Family loyalty – enables self destructive behaviour to continue in members of the family
  • Keeps their cool – bottles up feelings, especially anger. Can be seen as unfeeling
  • Predictable, reliable – reacts badly to change
  • Strong moral values – judges others
  • Intense – makes her sensitive to criticism and addicted to dramaBossy – makes her controlling

Depending on how long your story is, you could spend a lot of time with these characters so enjoy getting to know them.

The more you know your characters and how they behave, the more interesting and believable they will be for your readers.

Happy writing:)

Dee

P.S. next time we’ll be looking at how to fix an unlikeable character

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6 thoughts on “How to Get to Know Your Main Character – Part 2

  1. Thanks Dee for this great template for getting to know our characters. I had all the basic stuff, but this list is going to be invaluable. I am going to set it as a template in Scrivener to use when I’m fleshing out my “people”.
    Paula
    PS, I always enjoy your writing tips, though I don’t always reply, I do always read them 🙂

  2. Fantastic list and thought provoking material Dee. I relate to the Reverse Character Traits in particular, as I find it applicable to many of the ‘characters’ I know in real life. Often our strengthens are our simultaneous weaknesses. Seeing it spelled out in your post makes me wonder why I never paid more attention to my unreal characters’ traits; things which make their inner dialogue speak more clearly. Another promise to be more diligent next time. Ta muchly Dimity

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