To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, ruling, hoarding, building, are only little appendages and props, at most.
― Michel de Montaigne
If your character were an animal, what animal would they be? Write a list of traits and how the character expresses them through actions. If you don’t have a character right now, invent one based on an animal and do a character sketch based on that.
There are those who, when you tell them your heart’s desire, will do everything in their power to make sure you don’t get it.
You sit down for a cup of coffee with your grandma and she spins out an amazing tale. Write the scene.
Give your character a pet that helps with character development of that character. The pet should have a personality, even if it only appears in a few scenes. What kind of personality would complement your character?
Antique stores are full of items that say different things to different people. They are great for character development, even if they don’t appear in your story. Take your character into an antique store. Write a paragraph on what item they are most attracted to and why.
You are visiting a married couple. At breakfast, they begin to have a snippy debate about an inane issue such as coffee (weak vs strong) or toast (soft vs crisp). Just as you realize the debate isn’t really about the toast (or whatever), one of them turns to you and says, “Isn’t that right, [insert name here]?”
Write this dialog from the beginning, and be sure to include physical gestures throughout. They are eating breakfast, after all. Also, avoid dealing directly with the underlying conflict (ie, “What is this really about, Frank?”) or you’ll sink the scene.
Create a character who is afraid of going outside and put them in an extreme weather situation like a flood or a fire. Write what happens.
List 3 qualities you don’t like about yourself (or someone you know) and then create a character that personifies each. Take the most interesting character somewhere (on paper), like to a bar or a church service, just to see what they do.
Create a character (or use one you already have). Write a list of their top 3-5 goals. Then one by one, write a description of their misguided plans to achieve each goal.