Earlier this week I wrote an article for Fantasy Faction called “FLESHING OUT YOUR PROTAGONIST – WHO AM I?“
Here are a few more exercises to help that Protagonist go from 2D to 3D –
So now that we have explored the values and morals of your protagonist, researched your character, and identified your protagonist’s unique quirks, it’s time to give your protagonist a voice. The best way to do this is to find a sheet of questions and then “interview” your protagonist. Pretend she/he is sitting across from you and as you ask each question, answer the questions as if you were her.
Who was your first boyfriend? Amanda: Wow.. that’s a tad personal isn’t it. How is this relevant to anything? Well if I have to answer, hmm, I guess it was Todd Hobert, this sort of geeky ninja boy I went to school with at the ninja academy.. wait no. Do you mean boyfriend boyfriend or the first guy I snogged? Oh well it doesn’t matter. Todd Hobert was my first boyfriend, though not my first kiss, that was Scott Fish. He was such a great kisser (dreamy eyes – look of confusion as she realizes people are watching her) What was I saying? Oh yes Scott.. We weren’t dating. We just liked to kiss every now and then..
You can find these lists online by googling them. My favorite is: http://www.writing4success.com/dl/character-interview.pdf
Answer the questions being as true to your protagonist as possible. Even if you feel like these questions can’t possible benefit you or your writing, it gets you into your protagonist’s head and you may learn something you didn’t know before.
Now that we have your protagonist’s voice, what is your protagonist’s backstory? My suggestion here is to create a timeline. This is also great if you have want to map out the history of your world. Anyways, back to your protagonist: Create a timeline that starts at their birth. Who are their parents? Create 10 events that happened to your character before they were sixteen. Continue creating the timeline up to where you begin your story. If you know what’s going to happen in your story, keep going with the timeline. Later you can have your protagonist reflect on these moments and give him/her some depth. Your character wasn’t born the moment you started your story. They had a whole life before you got a hold of them and began to subject them to your nefarious plots. Listen to your character while you create your timeline and do these exercises. They will speak up; let them guide you – don’t force something that your character wouldn’t want to do.
Lastly, it’s time to create a fact sheet for your protagonist’s binder: This is just basic information to keep at the front of you binder to review so you don’t forget important facts (like me: before I made this my protagonist’s hair color and eye color would change constantly throughout the story!)
The fact sheet should list these things:
Name, Gender, Ethnicity or Species, Education Level, Current Occupation, Income, Previous Occupation/s, Date of Birth, Birth Location, Current Age, Current Location, Housing (Rent, Own), Bad Habits, Redeeming Traits, Career Goals, Marital Status, Height, Hair Color/Style, Astrological Sign, Aspirations Fears, Illegal Activities, Skills/Training, Physical Ailments, Blood Type, Identifying Features/Scars Mental Conditions, Religious Beliefs.
Character’s Past: Parental info – Name, Date of Birth, Date of Death, Occupation, Parent’s Religious Beliefs, Ethnicity/Species. Answer the same for any Siblings, Former Spouse or Significant Other (For Spouse/Significant Other – add Date of Marriage, how long they’ve been together, Where and how did they meet.
Character’s Present: Current Spouse or Significant Other (*Same info as above), What’s currently going on in the character’s life.
There you go! Stay tuned for more articles and more exercises to help make you a better writer and increase your chances of getting published!