Hello, everyone. I’m new to the forum, so I thought I’d contribute by sharing my favorite character-building exercise. Whenever I find myself stuck with a character (new, old, or otherwise) I sit down and write about their morning routine. This exercise hardly ever makes it into the character’s finished story but it helps me learn about their personality and watch them deal with everyday challenges. I know it sounds simplistic and maybe strange to focus on a morning routine, but for me this works. In the morning you’re groggy and not thinking very hard. How better to learn about someone than when they’re being nothing but themselves? Here are some of the things I look at during my character’s morning routine: Does my character hop right out of bed as soon as the alarm rings? Or does he hit the snooze button fifteen times before getting up? From this detail you might learn that your character is a bit lazy or very motivated. Think about where they’re going and what’s on the agenda for the day. Are they organized, checking their calendar every five second and glancing at the clock all the time—or are they unconcerned with the day ahead, dreading going to work and dragging their feet? What do they do after they get out of bed? Does your protagonist shrug off a shower or do they meticulously bathe every inch of skin? What brand of soap do they use? Is it cheap even though they can afford better soap, or is it luxurious and decadent even though they can’t afford it? What does this say about a person? Do they get up and exercise? Do yoga? Watch cartoons? Immediately eat breakfast? And is this breakfast home-cooked and complicated or a cheap bowl of cereal? One of my characters ended up trying his dog’s kibble, an event I hadn’t seen coming at all. From this I learned he was curious, adventurous, and shameless. How long does it take them to do their hair? Do they spend hours in front of the mirror or do they let bed-head reign? This tells you if they’re fussy, laid-back, humble, or vain—even better if they think about outdoing someone at work with their looks, which tells you they might be vindictive or competitive. Does your character have to go wake up their children? Take out the dog? Read the newspaper? How do they react to bad news (or good news) when they see it? And how do they react when they glance at the clock and see that they’re running late? Throw in little challenges here and there, like a noisy neighbor or a broken toaster, and see what happens. Maybe their bus is late or their car’s battery dies—I don’t know. But I’ve found that the morning routine in particular has a lot of gold to mine and a lot of potential challenge. Everyone wakes up in the morning; use this commonality as a springboard for discovery. This works for me, of course, but it might not work for everyone. Thanks for reading; I hope I’ve shared something useful! What are your techniques for getting to know your characters? I’d love to hear!