As promised, another installment of Character Development writing prompts. I’ll explain in case you missed the first list. I have found the personality indices many people use to create characters to be impractical and difficult to incorporate into a story. They don’t really tell me how someone will respond to the situations in my book. So, I have come up with some scenarios that you can put your character into that will show you, practically, their personality and how they handle different situations. If you take the time to write them out they will even help you develop the voice and style you’d like to use while writing your character. So here are 20 scenarios to use for developing characters.
1) What would your character do if she was given a treasure map? Would she throw it away, expecting the giver to be lying to her or, at the very least, misinformed themselves? Would she take off immediately to find the treasure? Would she save the map for later when she would be better prepared? Would she give the map to a friend who enjoys that sort of thing far more than she does?
2) If your character was stranded on a desert island, but he could only bring three things what would they be? (And no saying “boat,” “food,” or “water” unless your character is really that straight forward.)
3) If your character could change one thing about herself, what would it be?
4) What would your character do if he was told he had one week to live?
5) Is your character from a rural or urban background? What would she do if she had to spend one week, month, year in the opposite?
6) How would your character handle unruly children?
7) Whether your book has magic or not, imagine your character is suddenly gifted with a magical power. Which would she most prefer? Least? What would she do with that power if she knew it was limited?
8) What would your character do if he met his idol?
9) Where would your character go if she needed to solve a complex problem? Would she retreat to solitude or seek others to help? Would she go to a place of learning, like the library, or to a place of more activity?
10) Imagine your character was tricked into doing a very gross job. First, what kind of job would he find the grossest? Would he try to get out of it? Would he sit and refuse to work? Would he work hard to try and get it done as fast as possible? When the job was done would he seek revenge or just never talk to the person who tricked him again? Or would he laugh it off as a friendly prank?
11) What would your character do if she was made ruler of the whole world? Would she change laws, seek immediate help, revel in wealth and luxury, or promptly turn it down?
12) How does your character handle making bad decisions? Imagine a scenario where your character makes a choice that leads to her own misfortune, the misfortune of someone she cares about, or a major setback for the main goal. Does she immediately try again or wallow. Does she recognize it was her own fault or try to blame others? Does she analyze what went wrong to the point of being unproductive in actually fixing anything or vow to think about her next choice a little more?
13) What would your character do if he was accused of a murder he didn’t commit? Run and hide or try to prove his innocence? Face the consequence and trust the system or enlist the help of anyone who believed him?
14) What would your character do if he accidentally killed someone? Not care that much because he does it on purpose often enough? Spiral in to depression and live in a virtual walking coma? Seek justice? Not tell anyone but understand it was an accident and nothing could be done?
15) How would your character handle a long-term, major illness? Would she try to keep working, or whatever she was doing, to the point of delaying recovery or follow the doctor’s instructions to the letter and focus on healing? Would she take it in stride or feel like she was being punished and lament her terrible luck? Would she seek science-based medical help or other methods of healing?
16) What would your character do if he was told he was adopted? Would he treat his parents differently? Would he seek his birth parents? Would he say, “That’s nice,” and keep on living his life?
17) What would your character do if she found out a fundamental part of her life was provided by terrible means. If her favorite tea was harvested by slaves, if the school she has wanted to go to her whole life beats the initiates nearly to death as a test of loyalty, or if her best friend cheats on her husband. Would she change her ways, try to solve the issue, or continue as normal?
18) What would your character do if he woke up and all the other people in the world were gone? Party at the neighbor’s house? Freak out entirely? Go searching for others? Give up and wait to die?
19) How would your character react to being given whatever the main goal of your story is? If she stepped outside and the bad guy was tied up on her doorstep or the holy grail was sitting on her bedside table in the morning. Would she take it and be grateful? Would she be super suspicious and spend the rest of her time trying to figure out if it was a trap and who did it? Would she assume she was in some hallucination and not trust reality anymore?
20) How would your character react to waking up one day and being sent back to the beginning of his quest? Would he assume the whole thing was a dream? Would he seek medical evaluation? Would he look to magic for answers? Would he just start over and hope it didn’t happen again?
I hope these writing prompts get the wheels turning on how to portray your characters and maybe even some situations you could put them in. Have fun and good luck!