Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Free Friday: Personality Tests for Your Characters!

Revising Song of the Day: "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour
You know that feeling you get when you bump into an old crush? A part of you is excited to see him--to check him out, see how he's aged, get those butterflies all in your stomach. However, there's also the chance you'll be a bit terrified: Oh my God, why did I EVER check him out? Look how he's aged! I shouldn't have had that omelet for breakfast...
Yeah. That's kind of how I feel about revisions. I'm either going to open up the manuscript and get all giddy like a middle school girl...or I'm going to want to puke all over my keyboard (thankfully, the latter has never happened. Yet.).

As you probably can tell, I'm strapping on the fingerless gloves and diving back into revisions for Project J. I've always struggled with plot--so during my first few rounds of revisions, I focused on climaxes and conflicts and resolutions, oh my!

But then I lost my character.

That's right--I struggled with my main character. I NEVER thought I'd have trouble with character, but when I zoned in on plot, I forgot about letting my protagonist guide the story.

So what did I do? I popped open an issue of Writer's Digest and read a great article by Mike Nappa, "Skill-Builders for Fiction Writers." One of his suggestions was to complete personality tests for your characters. I thought: hey, I'm a writer. I'm a counselor. This should be fun!

And it was. I knocked a couple of those babies out, and soon I remembered what it was that I loved about my main character, Jonah. I remembered who he was and what he wanted and how he thought--and the butterflies were still there! So, I thought I'd share some of my faves:

Personality Type: This quiz only has 4 questions, but it reveals if your character is an introvert or extrovert. A thinker or a feeler. A scheduler or a freestyler. Pretty cool.

The Stress Test: Allow your character to pick 3 pictures. The one he/she does NOT choose reveals what he/she is stressing about. Great way to figure out potential conflict.

Driving in a New City: Your character gets lost with his/her partner. How does he react? This is awesome in seeing how your character interacts with others.

I could go on and on and on with all the cool quizzes that can help figure out your character, but instead I'll direct you here so you can choose more of you own.

So what do you think? Can personality tests help you with revisions?


Ghenet Myrthil said...

These look fun! I'm going to do this with my MC. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your revision. I'm dealing with it now too.

Alicia Gregoire said...

These are great, Pam. I have an entire book that deals with these types of issues. It's called WHAT WOULD YOUR CHARACTER DO? I'd love to tell you more about it, but all I've done is stare at it.

Amie Kaufman said...

I think this stuff can definitely help -- I also think it helps when I'm dealing with someone IRL I can't quite work out. Though I wouldn't necessarily tell them I'm thinking this stuff!

Christa said...

It's funny, I revised my first book so much, I lost all my characters. I didn't know them at all any more. I had to put it away. I am getting it back out again in April, but I have decided to do a collaboration on it bc I feel so defeated by how much revision has gone into this book all by myself. Fingers crossed this plan works.

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