As readers we’ve all been completely absorbed by the intriguing and delicious lives of some of the characters we’ve read about. We’ve also all been frustrated when one-dimensional characters inhabit great plots.
Learning to develop juicy characters isn’t easy but The Who Exercise can help. Taking the time to come up with answers — from A thru Z — can provide you with insights and backstory ingredients that will help you develop more layered and nuanced characters.
a). What’s your name? Where did it come from?
b.) How old are you? When is your birthday?
c.) Where did you grow up?
d.) Where do you live now? Do you like this place?
e.) What’s your profession? Are you a student?
f.) What’s your hobby? What are you passionate about?
g.) Who’s important to you, in your life now?
h.) Do you have any pets?
i.) What are you most proud of?
j.) What are you most ashamed of?
k.) What’s been your favorite day so far in your life?
l.) What’s been your least favorite day so far in your life?
m.) What do you think about God?
n.) What do you think about politics?
o.) What do you think about love? Have you ever been in love?
p.) What do you think about sex?
q.) Who do you talk to the most? What do you think about this person?
r.) What irritates you the most?
s.) What do you think about everyone who you interact with in this story?
t.) Right before this story begins, what happens to you?
u.) How much money do you have right now?
v.) What’s at stake for you?
w.) What scares you the most?
x.) What do you want?
y.) Where do you see yourself in 5 weeks, 5 months, 5 years?
z.) What are at least 3 questions that are important for you to know for this character that haven’t been asked above?
Your Character’s Ten Truths
After providing your character’s A-Z answers, you will be able to list your character’s ten truths. Perhaps make a card or a stickie to keep them near you while your work.
And what are Ten Truths? Ten things about them, their life, their existence that are absolutely true.
You are invited to post your character sketches, your A-Z description, your reaction to the exercise, or your character’s Ten Truths in the comments.