Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Disguises and Masks: A Great Way to Understand and Uncover Your Book's Characters

What's behind the veil? If everyone in literature wears a disguise or mask that veils their true self, what are your book's major players hiding behind?

This week's writing exercise asks you to unmask these folks through a series of nitty-gritty questions. Spend about 20-30 minutes on this exercise, if you can. Be prepared to dig and learn!

Pick one of your characters and write an answer to one of these questions, as if you were interviewing them.

1. What broke your heart?
2. What do people who know you think of you?
3. Who would you eliminate from your life?
4. What do you wish never happened to you?


  1. What I love about this exercise is that it gets at the heart of the characters by prompting the writer to address matters of the heart. What people of think and feel about each other and themselves gets beyond the superficial and down to the essence of characters - what a great way to foster intimacy.

  2. So glad you found it useful. For me, it can be hard sometimes to grasp the heart behind motives, decisions, and actions of people in our everyday lives--a lifetime study! And how do you do this with people that only exist in your head when you're writing...I think these questions help me more than anything I've tried.