Ten (Mostly Random) Things You Can Do to Get Out of a Character Rut

Ten (Mostly Random) Things You Can Do to Get Out of a Character Rut

It happens to all of us. Our characters get lackluster, boring, and we can’t seem to make them pop. We fight it, and it only just gets worse. They were so interesting before, and now they just seem like every other character we ever wrote.

A number of years ago, I realized that if I made some of my decisions randomly, I couldn’t fall into character ruts. And I’ll tell you, it challenged me so much more in my writing. Some people do not like random, and I can understand their point of view, but I find that taking the decision out of your own hands can be invaluable in inducing creativity, and in the end you can always put your foot down if the random goes totally against your character’s nature.

Here are ten things that I have used with success to break out of a rut:

-Put character traits on paper, mix up, and assign 3 to each character.

-Go onto Pinterest, randomly choose quotes/prompts for each character.

-Think of a random happening, i.e., falling down stairs, near drowning experience, being forced to eat food they hate, and randomly assign one to each.

-Cast your characters. Sometimes a face helps get you jumpstarted.

-Randomly choose theme songs and make your characters fit them.

-Ask them crazy questions.

-Ask them yes and no questions, and randomly generate their answer ie: 1=yes 2=no. I have had some hilarious results from this.

-Assign a title to each one, i.e., The Rebel, The Exile, The Unbroken Spirit; something that sort of encompasses who they are. I have done this both randomly and not randomly with much success.

-Randomly assign them a strength and a weakness.

-Choose a quirk or an interest—say, being afraid of germs, or being great at imitations, and randomly assign one or two to each character.

What do you do when your characters aren’t coming to life? Have you ever used randomness in your writing before?

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