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

character development | writing exercisesIf 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.

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!

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One thought on “Writing a Romance Novel? Try this Exercise & Develop Your Characters

  1. Rachael_Renee

    Extremely helpful! I write mainly fantasy, horror and paranormal shorts and novels, but have found myself wanting to write a romance recently. I wrote the first four chapters and now I’m stuck… Not only does this help with a fight scene, but helping you determine different parts of your character and their relationship with their significant other. A great article; thanks a bunch! 😀


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