How Well Do You Know Your Character?

Have you ever seen the newlywed show? Or been to a bridal shower where they ask the bride-to-be questions about her future groom and compare them to the what the groom said when asked the same questions?

Would you know the answers to those questions about your character?

When’s her birthday? What’s his favorite season? Where was their first date? What did she wear? How did they meet? What color are his eyes? When did they first say, “I love you?” Who said it first? What most annoys her about him? And vice versa?

Do you know how your hero or heroine would answer these questions? How does your main character and his or her love interest differ in their responses? How do they differ from what how you would describe them?

Knowing the answers to those questions – especially how your characters would answer them, not you, can give you a peek into what their relationship is like and how they relate to one another, including problems they might have in their relationship. Stop there. Consider: Does it bother her that he thinks she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt when she was really wearing a brand new $300 dress on their first date? Does it bother her that he thinks her eyes are green, when they’re brown – and his ex’s were green? Does it annoy him that she has no idea, after knowing one another since Kindergarten, that he prefers Mexican food to Italian? How do they react when these lapses in knowledge arise the first time? The second time? The tenth time?

On that same note, think about what started the tension in the first place. Was it simply that she was having a bad day and he ordered something for her that she doesn’t like while she was in the restaurant bathroom? Or maybe she told her mom that she didn’t mind that he didn’t have a great job, as long as he was happy? Maybe it’s something serious – or something perceived as serious. Maybe the one saw the other chatting with his ex on Facebook, or he saw some inexplicable texts on her phone, that she hurriedly deleted.

As you’re developing what your character’s tension points are, consider stoking the fire and really get your characters’ blood boiling for a tense scene between them. Even if you don’t use this in the final draft of your novel or story, it’s nice to know what buttons to push and how they react when they’re mad. It’s also good to know how they apologize and how this affects their relationship. Is it done and over with? Or will one person constantly bring up the past issues, even years after they apologized?


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  1. Great post, Michelle! Knowing our characters is vitally important!

    • Thanks, Michelle! This was Robin’s post. Love the photo, Robin. Sometimes it helps me to visualize an actor or actress when I’m plotting my character’s personalities. I’m so visual. That way when I’m writing their dialogue I can picture them saying the words and know when it “fits” their personality and when it doesn’t. Great post, Robin!

  2. LKWatts says:

    I’m just about to start planning my third book and I’m going to write the first draft before I lay out the characteristics of my characters. That way I can let their personality shine through naturally without it feeling forced. Once I write my second draft I’ll have a better idea of who has brown eyes, red hair and wears glasses. That will be when I start to make a note of things 😉

    • Hi LK! Good for you for starting your THIRD book. Your way of letting your characters “shine” and speak for themselves makes perfect sense. Sometimes I think I have a character all plotted in my head, but as the story progresses another character appears. It’s important to use those methods which allow your creativity to flow without hiccups. Keep going!

    • Robin says:

      Ooh! I love that idea. I’ll have to try it sometime. 🙂

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