Writing a Romance Novel? Try this Exercise & Develop Your Characters

Author:
Publish date:

If you want to write a successful story, you'll need to know who your characters are including their personalities, goals, and desires. To help you better understand your characters, read Eric Maisel's book, What Would Your Character Do? Inside you'll find 30 situations into which you can drop your characters to discover how they might act and react. Use each situation to discover the workings of your characters' personalities. Below is a sample scenario about a lovers' spat.

character development | writing exercises

A Lovers' Spat

Your character and her lover are having a spat about a seemingly trivial matter that nevertheless is provoking a lot of animosity. It might be a spat about someone coming home late without having called to explain the tardiness, someone not attending to an errand that he was supposed to handle, someone inviting company over without asking the other, etc. What apparently inconsequential matter might embroil your character in a lovers’ quarrel?

Get your character and her lover clearly in mind and set the stage for the fight. What does their apartment or house look like? What are they wearing? Once you have a clear picture of this quarrel, proceed to the following question.

How often is your character the one to initiate quarrels in this relationship?
a) Almost always?
b) Regularly?
c) About half the time?
d) Not very often?
e) Almost never?

a) Almost always initiating the quarrel is consistent with a bullying character who lacks self-awareness and impulse control, likes to demean and belittle others, and is generally disloyal and untrustworthy.
b) Regularly initiating the quarrel is consistent with a needy, high maintenance, critical character whose insecurities and low self-esteem play themselves out as bickering, quarreling, and a need for drama and attention.
c) Initiating the quarrel about half the time is consistent with a character in a tense, dramatic relationship where both partners keep the flames of disagreement fanned at all times and give as good as they get.
d) Not very often initiating the quarrel is consistent with a character who is distanced from the relationship and so little involved, both emotionally and physically, as to not bother quarreling or, alternatively, with a calm, confident character who doesn’t feel compelled to act out when small
things go wrong.
e) Never initiating the quarrel is consistent with a passive, perhaps defeated character who feels powerless to get what she wants and needs or, alternatively, with a solid, secure character who eschews quarreling in favor of more reasoned—and effective—ways of communicating.

How often is your character the one to initiate a quarrel?

For additional questions, more hypothetical scenarios, and information on character development, buy the book!

Buy What Would Your Character Do? now!

Abate vs. Bait vs. Bate (Grammar Rules)

Abate vs. Bait vs. Bate (Grammar Rules)

Learn the differences of abate, bait, and bate on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Sarah Pinsker: On Reviving the Set-Aside Story

Sarah Pinsker: On Reviving the Set-Aside Story

Award-winning novelist Sarah Pinsker discusses how she picked up and put down a story over many years which would eventually become her latest release, We Are Satellites.

Mary Alice Monroe: On Writing the Family Saga

Mary Alice Monroe: On Writing the Family Saga

Award-winning author Mary Alice Monroe discusses what it's like to draft a series that spans generations and storylines.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Final Competition Deadline, Short Story Virtual Conference, and more!

This week, we’re excited to announce the Self-Published Book Awards deadline for 2021, details on the upcoming Short Story Virtual Conference, and more!

John B. Thompson | Book Wars

John B. Thompson: On Researching Changes in the Book Publishing Industry

John B. Thompson, author of the new book Book Wars, shares the research that went into his account of how the digital revolution changed publishing for readers and writers.

From Script

Supporting AAPI Storytellers and Tapping into Mythical World Building (From Script)

In this week’s round-up from ScriptMag.com, meet South-East-Asian-American filmmakers and screenwriters, plus interviews with screenwriter Emma Needell and comic book writer/artist Matt Kindt, TV medical advisor Dr. Oren Gottfried, and more!

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

What Is a Personal Essay in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a personal essay (also known as the narrative essay) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing, examples of effective personal essays, and more.

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

FightWrite™: How Do People Who Don’t Know How to Fight, Fight?

If your character isn't a trained fighter but the scene calls for a fight, how can you make the scene realistic? Author and trained fighter Carla Hoch has the answers for writers here.

April PAD Challenge

30 Poetry Prompts for the 2021 April PAD Challenge

Find all 30 poetry prompts for the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge in this post.