A self-help book called Adulting, how to become a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps could be useful. I’m kind of afraid to look at it because I’m pretty sure I have more steps left than I care to know. However, seeing some of the sample steps made me think using the book could be an amusing way to get to know your characters better. For instance, here are a few:
- Don’t mention how tired you are.
- Your intentions are important--to you. Your actions are all the world experiences.
- Buy toilet paper in bulk.
- Be fine with being alone in a public place, as no one notices or cares you’re alone besides you.
So how about that character you’re creating for your novel or screenplay:
- Does he constantly try to get sympathy by mentioning the long hours he works? Or does he pride himself on working 80 hours a week?
- How big are the gaps between his intentions and his actions? Is he aware of the gaps?
- Does she buy toilet paper in bulk...or is she an extreme couponer?
- When he’s alone in a public place does he pretend to talk into his phone so people will think he’s waiting for another person?
Another approach is what I call the NSA View:
- What web sites do you think your character would visit? Why?
- To whom does she send emails? About what?
- Whom does he call? Who calls him?
- If you tracked her movements for a day, where would she have gone?
These are questions you can think about at odd moments of the day; when you actually start to write you'll find you know your characters well.
(Want more tips? Get a copy of "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)