Ten Lists of Ten Things

So, let’s do a little digging into our characters this week.

In order of love to like, write ten things (where applicable) for the lists below.Do this for each of your characters. Do this for anyone who makes a significant appearance in your novel. Get to know them all.

When I had a permanent office, I would write lists and put them all over the room. This  was also the library and I remember I once taped up so many things that I hid many of the books on the shelves near my desk. I like that memory.

I’m going to ask Main Character Questions, but you make a list for secondary characters, too. Think ten things per question, starting with the very best and going down to something they quite like but could live without. This isn’t a don’t like list. Only a Yes! list. If you can think of the whys to these answers, do. Write them down. Maybe use a scene to show something mentioned here happening.

1. What is your main character’s favorite foods? (The first time I met the very cool and famous Claudia Mills I asked her, “Are Fig Newtons your favorite cookie?” “They used to be,” she said. “Why?” “Because all your characters eat Fig Newtons.” We have been fast friends ever since.)

2. Favorite TV shows? (TV plays an important part in my 1972, one-legged rooster, stolen motor home book.)

3. Favorite songs or bands? (Music can set a time or period. It can tell how a character feels. I have some novels where my character never mentions music at all, and some where music might be a life saver.)

4. Favorite clothes or outfits? (I do have my very own favorite sweatshirt, that has been in storage for too long, that I decided to wear every day of winter one year. Yup, my four-way sweatshirt. Hope I get that out of a box before it gets cold–really cold–again.)

5. Favorite places to travel to or hide or go to get away? (This could be important to the plot, couldn’t it?)

6. Favorite books? (Books always end up in my novels. I mention my friend’s published books or the books I loved when I was a kid or that I love now. Sometimes these books have an indirect importance in the story. Sometimes they give the MC the edge she needs to do something.)

7. Favorite activities? (I had one character who loved to skinny dip when it was night. Another who loved her crayons and started each journal entry with a different color. What tells us about your character?)

8. Favorite things to do when frustrated? (I watch HGTV. If I can get my mind off the hard stuff, my brain can sort of power up by letting  go. What about your character. Remember this–if your character is bored, so is your reader.)

9. Favorite secrets to keep? (Are any of these secrets dangerous? Do they hold a key to why your character does what she does? When the secret is revealed, does the story unfold?)

10. Favorite worries? (I bite my nails. It’s not really a favorite, but when things get super-tough, my nails are the first thing to go.)

While you may not use all these things in your own writing, remember this–that everything you put in your book may play a significant role. You can’t just throw things in because. Writing isn’t about word count. Let what you put in your novels work for you.



Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, writing process

2 responses to “Ten Lists of Ten Things

  1. oh these are great questions and i am excited to start working on my novel again and answer them. i think this could help me get past the “i hate my plot and want to entirely change it” blues.

  2. This is a great list. I always try to include this information in a character sketch for my two main protagonists and my villain before I ever begin writing my story. It really helps me to stay in the character’s POV when I do begin writing, since by then I really know them well.


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