Have you ever read a book where the main character seemed to only exist to fulfill the needs of the plot? How can we make sure that doesn't happen in our books?
We want our characters to feel like real people that existed before the book began, with hobbies, interests, and relationships. A great character can be removed from the plot and still have something interesting and likable about them. But how do we create characters that feel like they had a life before the book?
My tip is to write out a normal day in the life of your hero, before the plot starts. Describe your hero going through his or her everyday life, from the moment they get up in the morning to the time they go to bed.
You want to cover all the daily annoyances, joys, and routines that your character regularly experiences:
-How do they decide what to wear that day?
-How do they feel when they are at work or school?
-How do they interact with their family members? Their friends? Other students or coworkers? Teachers or bosses?
-What do they hope for in the morning, and what keeps them up at night?
-What do they look forward to when the day isn't going well?
-What bothers them during the day, and what calms them down?
-What hobbies do they make time for, and what do they avoid doing?
This is just a writing exercise and won't be used in your book, so don't worry too much about the quality of the writing. Turn that inner editor off and just let it flow, and allow your character to surprise you.
This exercise may seem boring at first, but it is a great way to discover new things about your characters and how they think. It can also help you develop a character's voice. Once your characters feel like real people to you, chances are your readers will agree.
Have you ever tried this, or do you have any other good exercises for fleshing out your characters?