Tag Archives: characters

Character Development with Online Quizzes

I know, I’m blogging a lot this week! I can’t help it—I’ve been learning so much at my Dark Fantasy writing class and I’m coming home each day just buzzing with stuff I want to share.

Yesterday’s assignment was to take an online quiz as one of your characters and note which question gave you the most difficulty. This should give you an idea of where you need to learn more about your character.

I’ve never enjoyed doing those character worksheets you’ll see a lot of writers talking about. Whenever I did them, it felt very forced to me. Sure, I’d have notes on what kind of food my character liked to eat, whether she wore classic clothing or grungewear, or what kind of handbag she carried, but I always felt like I was just grabbing things out of thin air rather than having my character develop in a more organic manner.

Well, I just have to say, this online quiz assignment just blew me away. Unlike filling in a worksheet, where the questions are all pretty standard (favorite food? childhood incident that scarred your character? favorite color?), the questions in a lot of these quizzes are fun (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever taken one you saw someone post on Facebook). And I could actually feel myself thinking like my character—being my character—as I took the quiz!

And best of all, after you’re done you get an assessment which pretty much lays out what your character is like about certain things, and (at least when I did it) it was pretty spot on to what my character really is like—plus it gave me an idea what he was like in areas I’d never really thought about it.

Taking the quiz added to my knowledge of my character in a way that felt very organic to me. And it was fun.

It didn’t really help me see where I needed to learn more about a character, because I don’t normally do much character work before I begin writing, other than the occasional back story. But what a great tool for getting to know your character better!

So I’m adding this to my writer’s toolbox now. I’m also putting together a list of online quizzes that will be helpful for developing characters. So far I’ve got the following:

Myers-Briggs Test The classic psych personality test, this is the initial one I had my character take.

You Just Get Me With this one you answer 40 easy questions and you get a personality “bubblechart” when you’re finished.

Enneagram Test This one will place your character as one type among nine different types.

Which Three Words Best Describe You This one probably works best when you’re first starting out developing your character and know very little about her.

What Would Be Your Fate in the Hunger Games? Okay, this one is mostly pure fun, but my character did find out he’d win the games through sheer cunning.

What Career Should You Actually Have? Another fun one, but the little blurb they give you on why you should have that career is interesting.

The Sorting Hat Quiz This one isn’t on Pottermore but has all the questions from Pottermore. Aside from getting sorted, going through the questions as your character is very helpful because there are a lot of character revealing questions. My character belongs to Ravenclaw. I kind of knew that going in.

What about you? Have you come across any personality test or online quizzes that might be helpful for building a fictional character?

Wednesday Fun: Character Cards

I’m stuck. I’m at a certain point in my WIP where I really need to know more about the world I’ve created. Half the novel takes place there, the other half in “the real world”, and the scenes taking place in the “real world” storyline have outstripped the other scenes.

And I’m stuck because I need to know more about this world I’ve been creating.

Not that it hasn’t been fun writing by the seat of my pants and having details emerge as I write. And I still plan to finish up my writing in that way (despite quaking a little in my boots because I really don’t know how all these bits and pieces will magically come together in the end – I’m just trusting that they will).

But there are certain things I feel I really need to know. Like, “what lies in the Interior?” and “how does this all work out politically?” and “who is this dream merchant guy/gal and is dream merchant really the term I’m going for here?”

So I’m doing what I always do when I find myself feeling stuck. I’m diving around online, checking out this link and that link, and finding great stuff through some really convoluted routes (half the time, I don’t even remember how I got “here”, especially when I’m thinking, wow, “here” is a pretty great place to be and just how did I get here?).

(Okay, some of you might call this little game of mine “procrastination”, but I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt because I’m only perusing writerly links. So, you know, it feels like I’m sort of being writerly. Right?)

And I discovered this: Cheaters Guide to Writing 3-Dimensional Characters, by Leonard Hazell.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I definitely like the sound of this. So beautifully random! And so much more appealing than filling in character worksheets – those worksheets have never really been my thing.

If I end up doing this (I’m still working on my Inspiration Deck, so this one’s going to have to wait on my “list of creative stuff I really want to try”), I will probably personalize several elements of it. But oh, I love the idea of Character Cards!

And if you’ve played around with this method, do spill all in the comments, please!

Some Saturday Ramblings

It feels like a “lost” week around here in a way. Monday was a holiday here (not that it matters much to me work-wise since I work when I have a deadline and take time off when I don’t, but there’s the not-minor matter of not having to get up with the kids in the morning as they get ready for school!)

Add to that the head cold I had for three days, which unfortunately came back yesterday and really, it feels like all I’ve done this week is loll around in the grip of cold medication that makes me drowsy.

Reading …

I did manage to get through a nice chunk of The Likeness, by Tana French. I’ve mentioned before that, for some reason, this novel hasn’t hooked me the way In The Woods did. I finally felt really engrossed at around page 189. I’m now very near the end, but (and it might just be because I’ve been under the weather) I don’t find myself racing through to see what happens. In fact, the book has sat on the coffee table, open to the page where I last left it, for the past two days.

I did much better with the audio version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – I’m getting close to the end, and I just started listening earlier this week. (It generally takes me longer to listen to an audiobook because I only listen when I’m exercising, cleaning the kitchen and for an hour before bed.)

While I’ve reread the first three Harry Potter books a few times, I realized as I was listening to this one that this is my first reread of it. There were several things I’d forgotten, and one thing I was pleased to rediscover was that (tiny spoiler here, for those of you who haven’t read this one or seen the movie), unlike the movie, it wasn’t Cho who ratted everyone out. I hadn’t realized that the movie had parted ways with the book there (which goes to show how much of the book I’d forgotten by the time I saw the movie!).

Writing …

I’d meant to spend this week doing up character sketch thingies for my NaNoWriMo novel, but never lifted even a finger in that direction. I did, however, find a very handy set of free Excel worksheets right before I came down with that head cold. I’ll only be using the character worksheet, but for those of you who like to plot first, The Novel Planning Excel Workbook might come in handy (you can see all the worksheets in the novel here, but you need to go here to download it).

When I was writing NANTUCKET, I ended up taking a file folder and writing down all my secondary characters in it, because I found myself wasting a lot of time trying to remember names, especially the names of the more minor characters. I think using the character worksheet will really be helpful.

Fitness Challenge

I haven’t done that well this week with the challenge, logging in only two miles, on the day when I was feeling better. I was supposed to do another 1.5 miles yesterday, but kept postponing it, and then that head cold came back again. I really should get on the treadmill today, but I’m still feeling tired.

Ah … discipline. Nope. I don’t have it, not for fitness, anyway!

The Food Blog

Earlier this week, I posted about our Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend; I also mentioned that I was hoping my husband would start blogging at our food blog, Muse in the Kitchen, because I have been doing a terrible job of keeping it up-to-date.

The thing is, while I do love to eat, it’s Ward who’s really passionate about the cooking and the recipes. He’ll be so thrilled about discovering a new technique that creates a much better result, while I’ll be like, “okay, that’s wonderful, is it okay if we dig in now?”

So guess what? He wrote his first post at Muse in the Kitchen the same day I wrote about our Thanksgiving dinner! You can check it out here: 30-Minute Homemade Pasta.

Since that first post, he’s also written several more posts. And today he told me he’s having a great time blogging! My job with the food blog now is very much like my job in the kitchen. During prep time, I play the role of sous chef; at the blog, I do a bit of reformatting.

Life feels pretty near perfect right now …