Researching Your Character


Last week, we covered the three subcategories of the destructive character arc. Can you remember what they are? The destructive character arc can lead to some interesting developments in protagonists, antagonists, or other impactful characters in your story. All of this depends on what the purpose of your story, or the purpose of the character in your story, is. Now that we’ve covered the three most common character arcs, which one are you using for this character? I’d love to hear in the comment section. Today, we’ll return to the path of a character’s development.


Researching your character changes your characters from flat characters to round characters. A rounded character can carry a novel, a flat character can’t step off the page.

Why to Research Your Character:

Have you ever met someone who claimed to be best friends with your best friend? They claim to know a lot about them, but when they make identifying statements, they’re way off the mark. The disconnect between viewer and character can become a mirror image to you as a writer and the characters you’ve created. Researching your characters can mean a lot of things, but the big “why” is you won’t be able to claim that character as your best friend if you don’t know them. Don’t forget that researching your character can round out your character to make them more memorable.

Ways to Research your Character:

Write character clips prior to your novel: I got this idea from a series of character writing prompts in The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley. But writing flash fiction, or short stories, and maybe novels if you feel it necessary, about characterizing moments before your novel begins can help you round out the rough edges of your characters. The length depends on your characterizing moment, but try for around 500 words to work your character out.

Interview your character: While I worked on the first draft of Assimilation Fault, I found that one of my main characters fell flat. About halfway through the draft, I was running out of steam. I’d just watched Joker (2019) and the tv host scene gave me an idea. I put my character on the show and pretended to be someone like Jimmy Fallon, Larry King, or Oprah Winfrey. Then I started with some basic questions and discovered more questions as I wrote. So how do you do this? Start with a set of questions you know you need answered, but the story hasn’t yet. Then, as you get your responses from your character, find the questions they create from their answers. A little confusing? Maybe, but it may lead you down the path of character discovery.

Fill out one or many character questionnaires: There are a plethora of character questionnaires out there. The basic concept is that you, acting as your character, fill out these questionnaires to learn more about your character. I’ve heard of authors using the personality tests like Myers-Briggs, the Birkman Method, or the Enneagram. If you use Scrivener as a writing tool, then it has its own brief questionnaire to help you keep your characters straight. If you don’t want to use a personality test, then google character questionnaires and you’ll find over 20 million results. You can refine by genre or character arc from there.


After defining your character arc, you can learn more about your character through researching your character. Above are a few options, but there are exhaustive lists to approaches. If you have any methods of research you use, please comment below. A lot of what you learn through this research may never end up quoted on the pages of your novel, but it will show through your character’s actions and reactions throughout. Check in next week for more on round and flat characters.

Thank you for reading, and as always, stay fresh, my nugs!

Previous: The Destructive Character Arcs

Next: Round Characters Vs Flat Characters

3 thoughts on “Researching Your Character

  1. Pingback: The Destructive Character Arcs – Myers Fiction

  2. Pingback: Round Characters Vs. Flat Characters – Myers Fiction

  3. Pingback: Character Creation Closeout – Myers Fiction

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