Thursday, November 6, 2008

Electronic Worksheet: Character and Setting Prompts

Both your characters and your setting can be explored endlessly. This sheet will provide you with ideas to further deepen your characters, expand your setting and use them to discover your novel plot.

  • Start with the natural landscape. What would your setting look like if it were unoccupied?
  • What sort of buildings and structures can be found in your setting?
  • Describe the interiors of these structures.
  • Every novel is set in a time period. Describe the time in which your novel takes place.
  • What is the political and economic setting of your novel?
  • Describe the emotional atmosphere your characters find themselves in.


  • Make a list of all the characters you can imagine using in your novel.
  • Write a one paragraph physical description of each.
  • Write about your characters' pasts. What happened to them before the story began.
  • Write about one of your characters' greatest fears. Now deepest wishes.
  • What relationships do your characters have with each other? Show this through interaction.
  • Sometimes it might help to step away from the writing for a minute. Find pictures that look like your characters, or go out into the world and try to see them in others.

Connecting to plot:

  • Describe any weather that might move your characters to action. How do they respond to it.
  • What happens when your characters find themselves in a setting that is totally unfamiliar?
  • How does a character's past influence the present? What happens when others find out about it?
  • Write about what a character does to finally obtain (or achieve) his/her deepest wish.
  • What happens when you bring two characters together who have never met?

These are just a few ideas that may help as you write your novel this month. Do all of them, or think of your own questions and prompts. This month is special: you have a lot of writing to do, and very quickly. Sit down and explore every aspect of setting and every character you can imagine. All of this will help you find your novel and deepen it.

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