Characterisation Exercise: Then & Now

Characterisation Exercise: Then & Now


Has your character changed? In this post, we share a really useful characterisation exercise for writers.

Readers love to read stories where characters face uphill battles. They also like the main characters, especially the protagonist, to change and learn something as a result of these challenges.

How do you know if your characters have changed? How can you show that they have learned something?

Use this brilliant characterisation exercise to help you.

Characterisation Exercise: Then & Now

Stories are about characters who face a crisis and find a way to deal with it. Their world before the crisis is different to their world after it.

The day before vs The day after vs The day now

The Day Before

This is your character’s ordinary world. It is the way they exist before they face the crisis.

Create a schedule for your character’s morning routine.

  1. Name the character.
  2. Where are they?
  3. List 10 possessions around them.
  4. What time do they wake up?
  5. Who are they with? (Name them.)
  6. How do they dress?
  7. List the clothes they wear every day.
  8. What do they eat?
  9. What do they think about?
  10. What work do they do?

Write a scene showing their early morning schedule. Write it in first person or third person. Use all five senses. Use body language. Use dialogue if they are not alone.

The Day After

The morning after the inciting moment of the story will be very different.

Look at the list above. How many of these things are different? Are they somewhere else? Who is with them now? Will they still eat the same thing? Will they still be going to work? What are they thinking about?

Write a scene showing their early morning schedule now. Write it in first person or third person. Use all five senses. Use body language. Use dialogue if they are not alone.

The Day Now

Imagine the day after you’ve written ‘The End’. The story has finished, but your character’s life goes on.

Create a new schedule for your character’s morning routine.

  1. Where are they?
  2. List 10 possessions around them.
  3. What time do they wake up?
  4. Who are they with? (Name them.)
  5. How do they dress?
  6. List the clothes they wear every day.
  7. What do they eat?
  8. What do they think about?
  9. What work do they do?

Write a scene showing their early morning schedule now. Write it in first person or third person. Use all five senses. Use body language. Use dialogue if they are not alone.

The Last Word

All of these scenes should show that a character is changing or has changed in profound or subtle ways.

TOP TIP: Use our Character Creation Kit to help you create great characters for your stories. If you want more exercises, please buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.

 by Amanda Patterson
© Amanda Patterson

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TOP TIP: Use our Character Creation Kit to help you create great characters for your stories.
LOOK! If you want more exercises, please buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.