Know Your Main Character

“Know Your Main Character” by Joan Y. Edwards

I believe it’s a good idea to know your main character well.

1. Perhaps you’d know the answer to these questions about your main character:

What kind of schedule does your main character follow?
What are his favorite foods?
What foods does he detest?
Does he eat healthy?
Does he drink alcoholic beverages?
Where did he go to high school?
Did he graduate from college?
What is the relationship with his parents? grandparents?
What is he deathly afraid of?
What is he proud of?
What kind of clothing does he wear to work? for fun? to bed?
What would your parents think of this character?
What does he do really well?
What skill is his very worst?
What are his three worst habits?

Here are three websites with other good interview questions and ideas.

2. Cut out magazine pictures that you believe might look like them.

3. Write out a weekly journal pretending you are the character.

4. Ask the character questions in a letter. Have the character answer the questions in a letter. You can email them to yourself.

5. Give the character 3 props from his past. Ask him to tell you the story behind why they are significant to him.

6. If you see an actor that would fit the description of your character, rent a movie he acts in and pick up a quirky habit or two, or describe how they walk.

It’s fun to create a new character. These are only a few ideas to get you started or to add dimension to a character whose story you’ve already written.  Good luck in your ventures to add life and reality to your characters.

Enjoy yourself. Life is a precious gift.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please comment telling me what you believe writers should know about their main character.

Put a Positive Spin on Your Writing Life
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright 2012 © Joan Y. Edwards

11 thoughts on “Know Your Main Character”

  1. what a great blog. I already had some of these questions on a character sheet I do for my characters and I often cut out pix from magazines of what they’d look like and even their houses. But some of these are unique. I love the suggestion of writing letters. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Dear Rodow62,
      (I wish I knew your name)
      I’m glad you liked my blog post. Cutting out pictures of the character’s house. What an awesome idea! I’m glad you liked the idea of writing letters. It helps for counseling; why not, characters. You can ask them why they did certain things. They give you great backstory information, you might not have known. You’re welcome. Thanks for writing. I hope you’ll revisit my blog soon. Celebrate you.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

        1. Dear Roseanne,
          Thanks a bunch. I feel better knowing your name. It’s a beautiful name. Now I know that your nickname is Ro. Awesome. It all fits in place. I appreciate your writing and letting me know. Celebrate you and your love for writing!

          Never Give Up
          Joan Y. Edwards

  2. Very detailed and comprehensive post, Joan! I agree completely… the better we know our main character, the better. Otherwise he/she sneaks up on you and does things you really, really don’t want done!:)

  3. Joan,
    I especially like the suggestion about knowing the relationships with family members. There is some talk now about including more mention of parents in children’s books. Some parent/child book clubs are springing up. Some see this as a window to discussion about serious topics.

    1. Dear Linda, Thanks for writing. I’m glad you like the suggestion about knowing the relationships with family members. Thanks for letting us know about the parent/child book clubs springing up. A great thing to promote stronger family ties and building communication lines. Celebrate you today.

      Never Give Up Joan Y. Edwards

  4. Thanks Joan, great post. I love the suggestion about renting a movie and looking for quirks. What a great idea!
    Funny story: I tore a picture out of a Target ad magazine for my main character once and showed it to my kids. “This is HER!” I said. My kids told me who she was–a popular rock star. Definitely not the personality for my character, but she still had the right look, so i kept her!!

    1. Dear Carole, Thanks for writing and for the compliment about my post. I’m glad you liked the idea about renting a movie and looking for quirks. I loved the story about how you picked a picture out of a Target ad and said, “This is HER.” And your children told you she was a popular rock star. I’m glad you kept that picture. The look is what you were going for. Probably spunk, too. It takes a lot of energy and spunk to be a character in a book and/or to be a rock star. Thanks for adding humor to my blog. Celebrate you and your sense of humor today.

      Never Give Up Joan Y. Edwards

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