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August 11, 2012
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'Ello, Kitsune here. As many of you know, I'm currently working on a novel that is taking over my life. Recently, I've been having trouble keeping the personalities of my characters (who have changed a lot over the near eight years that I've been working on my novel) completely straight. I know my main character well enough, since the story follows her life closely, but sometimes I feel like I don't know everyone else in my world enough. 

I'm sure you've all seen the character profiles before. (Name, age, height, physical description, likes, dislikes, etc.) I have filled out more of those than I care to admit, but they very seldom help. Therefore, I came up with this "OC Exercise" to help you get to know your characters better. The best part is, it will even get you some writing practice!

:lightbulb: I highly suggest posting your finished products on deviantart and requesting a critique. This will not only help with your actual writing, but it might also help weed out those pesky mary-sue/gary-stu traits that ruin your great characters!

:bulletblack: This exercise can be used for main characters as well. Any original character, really.

Exercise: Pick a character and write a full scene for each scenario. Write the scene from first person (Me, myself, and I) or third limited (He, she, they). Try to show as much of the character's personality as you can, but do it through actions, not just dialogue! You do not have to do all of these, by any means. Scan through and pick a few you like! I provided as many as possible to allow for a wide range of choices. 


Scenarios:

  • In a fight. Whether your character is a skilled swordsman in medieval times or a high school girl that is arguing with her friend, write out a scene that involves an obvious conflict and show how your character handles it. Remember, everything from the skill of the fighter, the words spoken, and even their body language is important. Do your character's hands get cold and clammy when confronted? Or does their blood boil with the prospect of a good fight? Also, try to remember that not everybody is angry when they are in a fight. Some people like it! (Further down, you will find an option for "angry." Try to make these two different!)
  • Relaxing at home. Whether "home" is a two bedroom apartment with fresh paint or a cave that your characters come across in their travels to a distant land, write about your character relaxing. Do they spend their time cleaning their weapons, or do they pig out on everything in the fridge? What about things like books and video games? Perhaps they listen to music? What things calm them down and allow them to have a good time?
  • Spending time with a friend. Maybe your character is hanging out at their best buddy's house, or perhaps the only thing they have to call their friend is the stray cat that follows them around. How do they interact with their friends? Create a scene where your character goes out and does something with their friend(s). Do they get annoyed by how loud their buddy is? Or do they maybe feel awkward because they secretly have a crush on this best friend? Remember, body language is just as important as the words they speak!
  • Sulking or upset. Something really irked your character. What was it? How do they react? This helps to know what sort of things really get under their skin and how they deal with their bad moods. Do they punch the nearest wall or cry into their pillow? Do they try to cheer themselves up or distract themselves from the pain, or do they just curl up in a corner and brood? What does it take to fix their mood, also? Would a pat on the back from a friend make it better, or do they need a gallon of ice cream and a soap opera marathon? (P.S. This is not for "scared" or "angry". Those are a bit further down.)
  • Happy or excited. What puts a smile on your characters face like no other? For some people, all it takes is a quick glance of a pretty flower on the sidewalk. Sometimes it takes a whole lot more. Write a scenario where something just happened to make your character extremely happy. Maybe their parents just bought them a new car, or the love of their life just proposed. Perhaps they finally killed the evil overlord that ruined their life. How do they express their happiness? How do they share it with others? Do they grin with satisfaction or cry waterfalls of joy?
  • Inebriated. (That means drunk, kiddies.) What happens when your character downs one too many beers? Or are they a sophisticated champagne drinker instead? Would they get drunk on their own, or did somebody spike their drink? Are they even of age? Do they fall out of their chair and admit their inner most feelings between burps and giggles, or do they go into a rage and demand revenge on the fool that knocked over their martini? Remember, the mind works in funny ways when you're drunk, so writing from this point of view allows for silliness and flexibility. 
  • Traveling. (If you character doesn't travel, use "thinking" instead.) Many stories include scenes of travel, whether it's from home to school or from one country to another. When you're traveling, there isn't much to do aside from think and occupy your mind. How does your character handle long trips? Are they very patient or the "arewethereyet" type? How does your character feel about the saddle sores he's getting from the long trek across the country? Or maybe the butt-cramp from the stupid seat of the jeep? Do they complain endlessly or engage in conversation? Do they read or play games? Most importantly, try to write about what is going through your character's mind.
  • Afraid. What strikes fear in the heart of your character? Write out a scene where they are truly afraid. Maybe there is a horrendous storm and they are cowering at every boom of thunder (that would be me, in case you were wondering) or maybe they find themselves face to face with a hungry lion. What are their worst fears and phobias? How do they react to fear? What do they seek for comfort; do they climb under the covers and hide or run to their best friend? Fear is a powerful thing and can tell you a lot about a person.
  • Birthday. Everybody has birthdays, so how does your character spend theirs? This is a fun way to include your other characters as well. Maybe they throw a surprise party for your character, or perhaps they all go out bowling. Does your character even remember it's their birthday? Do they spend it strutting around with a tiara and a fistful of balloons, or like Harry Potter, drawing a birthday cake in the sand so they can blow out the candles? Most importantly, how do they feel about this big change? Also, how do they feel about everybody else's reactions? Is the surprise party their greatest wish, or an annoying nightmare of unwanted social activity?
  • In love. This is a very flexible one. You can most certainly use this to write out a romantic scene between your character and their love interest. However, not every character has a crush or significant other. Have fun with this! Maybe you could write about your character's love and lust for power over all. Perhaps you could write about their love for money, or the dream car that they drool over. Who or what makes your character's heart swell with positive emotions? 
  • Angry. Something really pissed off your character. Was it an everyday injustice of the world, or that idiot that swerved across three lanes and cut them off without even using their freakin blinker? Write a scene in which your character becomes very angry and then is calmed down. This not only shows what they are like when they are angry, but how they act when they are becoming angry, how fast it happens, and what it takes to calm them down again. For this one, they do not necessarily have to confront the source of their anger. (Try to make this different from "In a fight")
  • Embarrassed. Nobody likes being embarrassed! (Or do they?) Write out a scene where something embarrasses your character. Maybe they slipped and fell in the school cafeteria, or perhaps they blurted out something stupid to their crush. How does your character handle it? Do they sit on the floor and cry, or do they go on like it never happened? Do their ears turn red and their hands start to shake? Maybe they even get angry and yell at anyone who notices. Remember to include what your character is thinking as well as the actions they take. 
  • Eating. Imagine your character out at a restaurant, bar, tavern, friend's house, what have you. How does it go? Do they scarf down everything on their plate, or pick at it? Do they shove those nasty green things to the other side, or dump them under the table for the dog to get? How does conversation go? What do they think of the encounter? Perhaps they are at a family dinner, or sitting down at a table for the first time after a long travel with nothing but hard bread and cheese. 
  • Dependent. Suggested by chimeranovelEveryone has to depend on somebody at some point in their life. Some people are very dependent on others, while some hate having to trust another person with an outcome. What happens when your character has to depend on somebody? Maybe they have to depend on their partner in crime to pull off their grand scheme, or maybe they just broke their arm and need somebody to help them accomplish otherwise simple tasks. How does your character handle having to rely on others? (Also, see Injured)
  • Competitive. Some people compete well and some people really don't. How does your character handle competition? Do they seek out somebody to compete against in everything they do, or do they dread the very idea of competing? How do they react when they win? What if they lose? What do they compete in? Maybe an art contest, a karate contest, or maybe they're competing for somebody's affections?
  • Injured. Suggested by Rutana. Everyone knows being in pain is no fun, and it often changes how a person acts. What happens when your character gets injured? Do they push on despite the pain and refuse to acknowledge it until they pass out, or do they run around crying for a bandaid when they get a papercut? If it's long term pain such as a disease or something like arthritis, how does it change their personality? Are they crankier when they're in pain, or do they try to hide it? (Also, see Dependent.)

If you have any ideas for additional scenarios, or if you have feedback on an existing one, please let me know in the comments. If you use any of these, I would love to see what you write! So long as I have time, I will try to read everyone's.
An exercise to get to know your characters better! Also a great writing work-out, and maybe even the thing you need to get past that writer's block! It's quite a lot to read, but I hope you'll give it a chance <3

:lightbulb: Another idea for this is to pick several OC's, write their names down, and number them. Then use a random number generator to figure out which OC you will use. Then count the prompts, use the generator again, and figure out which one you'll use! This will present a challenge :D

Anyone may use this as inspiration or a writing guide, but please do not repost it anywhere.
`Luna--Rose also has some great literature challenges, and a ton of very helpful guides. Check her out!

If you found this helpful, Check out my other writers guides and lessons here! I will be doing more in the future, so feel free to watch me too! <3

Updates:
8.11.12 Added Dependent
8.16.12 Added Competitive
3.24.13 Added Injured


My work using this exercise:

Kyouya's Swordfight       Kyouya stood as still as the dead, poised like a snake about to attack. Breath in. Breathe out. There are only three. The men circled him, swords ready and eyes watching, waiting for him to make a move. His hands hovered over his own sword, ready to unsheathe it at any second, but he did not.
       “Will you stand and fight, or come with us?” The smallest of the man asked loudly.
       The man to his left scoffed. “What chance does he have to fight? Come along, boy.” Kyouya studied his hard face and square nose.
       The third man said nothing, distracted by his superiors and their taunts. In the split second that he was distracted by them, Kyouya struck out with his hand and opened his throat. The man gurgled as blood sprayed from his neck, eyes rolling back into his head. Before he hit the ground, Kyouya had pulled the small knife back up into his sleeve.
 
Tyler's Fight       As fast as he was running, he should have expected to trip. When he did it startled him, and he tried to protect his face as he went down on the rough gravel. He hit the ground hard, but managed to roll and dissipate some of the force. It didn’t take long for his pursuers to catch up.
       “We told you running was pointless, slut.” Josh, the group’s leader, kicked Tyler hard in the shin as he struggled to get up. Tyler didn’t see Raine with the group, for which he was glad. He gritted his teeth and stood.
       “Why won’t you just leave me alone? I want nothing to do with you or Raine,” he begged, his heart pounding. He stepped back and winced at the pain in his leg. He really wasn’t made for physical confrontation. 
       “You never should have touched her in the first place.” Josh spat on Tyler’s shoes and turned his b


Please help support me as a writer! If you enjoy my writers guides, all I ask is that you take a moment to read some of my own work. I'd love to hear what you think about it!

Demonika Ch. 1                I suppose I should have known from the start that the girl I found sitting in a dark, damp alley that night so long ago was a demon. Perhaps I was too young to put two and two together, or maybe I was too angry at my parents to care. I had only been ten for a few days, if I recall correctly, and I had just gotten into an awful fight with my father. I had looked to my mother for help but, to my dismay, she took my father’s side. They were both strictly against me going into magic.
                Ten was an important age for me; it was an important age for any youngster who desired a future in the magic arts. There was a yearly event attended by every magic loving ten-year-old around. Skilled mages arrived at the event in dramatic manners, appearing out of thin air or emerging from colums of fire, to speak with the children and find an apprentice. I had yearned to be one of th
Bad Luck Ch. 1       Half of the day had passed and Zane still lounged in his bed, staring at the ceiling between long, slow blinks. He was in a terrible mood. The source of his foul mood was the cell phone that blinked innocently beside him or, perhaps more accurately, the voicemail it had recited some hours ago. Another singer and their frail excuses for quitting the band. It was enough to drive anybody mad, really.
       For most problems, Zane simply turned to his guitar for consolation, but this problem couldn’t be solved by music. So instead he continued to lay in his bed and contemplate the unfairness of it.
       Zane had been playing guitar since he was old enough to strum. His lessons had started at age five and ended at ten, when his parents decided they’d had enough of his obsession with music and his time would be better spent on studies. Through the help of his ever supportive godfather, Zane still managed to lea
Arlyn of the Ocean                My childhood summers were filled with the salty air and sea shells of the Gulf, my favorite place to relax and play. I vividly remember the cold ocean water splashing at my ankles and the taste of the popsicles we ate between bouts of play. I collected hundreds of sea shells and made magnificent sand castles, dug holes as deep as I was tall and even caught a few fish. What I remember most of all, though, was Arlyn.
                The first summer I spent with my aunt was an entirely new experience; I had never seen the beach or played in salt water before. She coaxed me gently toward the water, armed with an array of floaties and toys. I followed her cautiously, reassured by her claims that I wasn’t meaty enough to interest any of the ocean’s monsters. I figured she had to be right; I weighed next to nothing as a scrawny, awkward ten-yea
Tyler's Fight       As fast as he was running, he should have expected to trip. When he did it startled him, and he tried to protect his face as he went down on the rough gravel. He hit the ground hard, but managed to roll and dissipate some of the force. It didn’t take long for his pursuers to catch up.
       “We told you running was pointless, slut.” Josh, the group’s leader, kicked Tyler hard in the shin as he struggled to get up. Tyler didn’t see Raine with the group, for which he was glad. He gritted his teeth and stood.
       “Why won’t you just leave me alone? I want nothing to do with you or Raine,” he begged, his heart pounding. He stepped back and winced at the pain in his leg. He really wasn’t made for physical confrontation. 
       “You never should have touched her in the first place.” Josh spat on Tyler’s shoes and turned his b
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:iconarielquevedo:
ArielQuevedo Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2014
This is amazing! I think you've created a wonderful tool to help writers. May I ask your permission to translate it into spanish? Of course all the credit goes to you. I would love to share it here with the hispanic community and in wattpad, if you grant me your permission. :aww:
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:iconsushiprincess:
Sushiprincess Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I immediately felt my creative juices sparkle when reading this :D Especially when imagining my character in situations outside of their comfort zones. Would you mind if I used this sheet for my roleplay-board? I think this might be helpful for other players, maybe I would turn this into a board game or something like this.
Reply
:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Sorry for the super late reply, but yes! You can use this for whatever you'd like :D It's meant to help you! ^^
Reply
:iconcatiminy:
Catiminy Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014  Hobbyist
This is really good! Thank you for sharing this. :meow:
You could also add 'sick'
Reply
:iconkatiemack577:
Katiemack577 Featured By Owner May 14, 2014
This is genius! Thanks for making this, I can already tell that it will help me out a whole lot. (: 
Reply
:iconmetalbyakko:
MetalByakko Featured By Owner May 12, 2014
It seems like an fun exercise to work on my characters^^
I think I'll try it just for fun^^
Reply
:icondoodlezap:
DoodleZap Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2014  Student General Artist
This is definitely going to help! Thank you so much!!!
Reply
:iconherocarys:
HEROCARYS Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, this really helps. I find myself hitting a block all the time and this is actually helping my writing flow. Perhaps another scenario could be a breakdown, where they realise they are weak or just feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, crushing them. I could list many scenarios but that is one that really helps reveal a characters true colours, and shows how vunerable some of us really are without a mask to hide behind. I hope to be able to post my use of this exercise soon~
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:iconsheltie-x:
Sheltie-X Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
What about 'Lost', like maybe either in a forest or maybe they've lost faith in all they know, or they've lost someone close to them?
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:iconkushami-aru:
Kushami-Aru Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2014
Oh, this. This. This will be so useful... The only problem is that I can't write in English as well as in Finnish so if I translated my exercises you would have a big pile of gibberish in front of you. :( What should I do? I want to try this but I think it would be unfair not to show you what I have written.
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