Tips · Writing

Have a Drink! With your Character

Many of us enjoy having a drink, so why not have a drink with your character? A story isn’t developed without knowing your characters. Some of my characters I didn’t understand until later in the writing process. Sure, you can do a table with their certain attributes, looks, what they like, dislike and all that. It still may be hard to determine what they’re really like. I could write all day about what John Doe likes, but it’s not until I get down to writing that I learn what he’s all about.

I like to do this exercise with my characters; imagine what it’d be like to have a drink with them in real life. This could be what kind of bar they’d frequent or what they’d order tells me a lot about them. It also shows how they’d talk when their guard is down after a few drinks. It helps me understand what kind of mannerisms they’d have and how they’d approach a suitor in a bar. This may sound silly but this has helped me.

Some characters would stick with beer, whiskey, scotch, maybe a cosmopolitan. Some are strictly wine drinkers, but what kind of wine? Is it white wine or red wine? I think this can make a huge difference in what kind of person they are. At my day job, I’ve dealt with drunks for years and whenever a situation arises I ask, “What were you drinking tonight?” their answer usually tells me a lot about them, at least in my experience. I’m pretty good at determining if they were drinking beer, mixed drinks, wine or straight Jack Daniels.

It’s just a game I play when I’m fiddling with character development. I’ve found this little exercise useful in character development and it’s also fun. If you don’t drink, that’s okay to, you can still imagine what they’d be like.

A lot of writers give certain advice to pretend you’re the character, well pretending to have a drink with them is the same notion. After doing this little exercise, I sometimes wish my characters were real people.

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