Sunday, January 3, 2021

How to Write Characters Inside Out: The Exercise by Alice Orr @AliceOrrBooks #AmWriting #MFRWauthor #AmEditing

My Holiday Gift for You is an Alice Orr How-To!
Write in the first person, using "I." Answer as your character. Speak with her voice from her experience. Record the ways you feel (as her) about how each exercise item relates to you. Answer from your gut, not your head. Be specific.

My Full Name is….

I was born in (place name)…. My heritage is (racial, ethnic),,,,

My birth (or adoptive) family's financial situation was…. Their community status was….

The family I grew up with consisted of (member names and relationships)….

The family member I am closest to is…. because….

The family member of my family I am most distant from is…. because….

As a Child.

I would describe myself as…. My most memorable childhood experience was….

As an adolescent, I was…. My most memorable adolescent experience was….

My first sexual experience was…. My attitude toward sex then was…. And now is….

My Appearance.

What I like about the way I look is…. What I hate about the way I look is….

I believe that other people think I look like…. My style of dress is…. because….

If you ask me what I am like as a person, I would say I am…. because….

My religious or spiritual beliefs are…. My political beliefs are….

My overall attitude toward life is….

My Self.

The most significant thing I have ever discovered about myself is….

I feel that my greatest talent is…. The thing I believe in most strongly is…. because….

The thing I have enjoyed most in my life is…. The thing I disliked most is…. because….

My most important goal in life is to…. because….

My Emotional Life.

My biggest inhibition is…. because…. My superstition is…. because….

My greatest disappointment in life is…. because…. I was most joyful when…. because….

My greatest frustration in life is…. because…. My biggest regret in life is…. because….

I was most enraged in my life when…. because…. I was most terrified when…. because….

I was most humiliated when…. because…. I was most heartbroken when…. because….

My deepest fear is…. because…. My darkest secret is…. because….

The biggest lie I ever told was…. I told it because…. I yearn most for…., because….

More Areas to Explore.

Friendships. Sexual history. Romantic history. Professional history. Educational history. Hobbies and leisure time activities. Health issues. Plus, anything else you should know to get inside your character and write her from that very intimate place.

Use the Above to Dig Deep into Each of Your Big Three characters.

Protagonist (hero), secondary protagonist (mate, sidekick, foil), antagonist (villain) – and any other character you need to know Inside Out. Do this and you will create the most compelling characters who have ever flowed from your imagination onto the very powerful pages of your best stories ever.

For more insights into writing and publishing, visit my blog at

Alice Orr is author of 16 novels, 3 novellas, a memoir and No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells. A former book editor and literary agent, Alice now writes full-time. Her latest novel is A Time of Fear and Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 5. Find all of Alice Orr’s books at and other online retailers. Alice has two grown children and two perfect grandchildren and lives with her beloved husband Jonathan in New York City.
Author Website
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  1. Thank you Kayelle for posting this article. I believe in the exercise because I have used it in many writers' workshops and watched the light of recognition and accomplishment sparkle into the eyes of participants. Which is the experience all teachers live for of course. I have also used the exercise myself as a pathway into the underneath of my characters. The result has been revelations I never expected. Added Note: Try the exercise on yourself and your own life. The result just may be some revelations of your own underneath as well. Meanwhile, I hope everyone will Keep on Writing Whatever May Occur. Alice

  2. Thank you, Alice. I always enjoy your advice. Timely and practical!