Write anything you want for an hour. Go and do it, now. Just get a book or some paper and write whatever comes to mind. It can be little sentences or a poem or whatever. Then, leave it. Go and watch some of your favourite TV show or read a book or go for a walk. When you come back, reread what you wrote and pick out any sentences that you like. You might have only found one sentence you like, but this is your writing style. Try and write a few more sentences based on the one you have in front of you.
Once you’ve done this, start to look at some plot references. Here’s a great one to help you advance your characters.
Now that you have a plot, you need some characters. Think of interesting characters with flaws. Don’t make them perfect. Make them realistic to what they would be like. It often helps me to answer the following questions about a character I am creating:
a) What is their favourite food? How and when did they first try this food, and how often do they eat it?
b) What type of music do they like? How did they get into this music style?
c) Does your character have any scars? If so, how did they obtain them?
d) To whom is your character closest to?
e) Does your character like to read? Or do they prefer to watch things on TV? If so, what do they like to read/watch?
f) What is your character’s happiest memory?
g) What is your character’s saddest memory?
h) What do you know about your character that they have not yet found out themselves?
i) Describe your character using an animal. Now describe them using three words.
j) Name three things your character regrets in their life.
k) Name one “turning point” in your character’s life.
l) Is your character an introvert or an extrovert?
m) What is your character’s full name, preferred nickname, preferred pronouns, sexuality and gender identity?
n) At what point in your character’s life did they decide to take the path they are currently following, e.g. University, on the run, living away from home?
o) What is your character most passionate about?
p) What is your character’s relationship with their mother? Father?
q) Does your character have any siblings? Do they get on well with each other?
r) Who is/was your character’s best friend, or did they not ever have one?
s) Where does your character live? How rich or poor are they?
t) What is your character’s favourite song?
u) Does your character sing in the shower?
v) Is your character an early bird or a night owl?
w) Would your character sacrifice the person closest to them if it meant gaining the thing they wanted the most in life?
x) What personality type is your character? Try taking the Myers-Briggs personality test, answering the questions in the same way that your character would answer. (You can take the test here.)
y) Can your character sleep without any light on?
z) What is your character’s worst fear?
Although you may not mention all, or any, of these in your story, they can be helpful in getting to know your character as something a lot deeper than what you put into your novel.
Another thing you can do is take various personality tests for your character. This gives you an idea about the type of person that their flaws and faults make them to be. It’s also good to give them a hamartia- a fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a protagonist- that poses problems throughout the story. For example, Romeo’s fault in Romeo and Juliet was that he was fickle, and couldn’t decide on his own mind. Finally, in creating your character, it’s always fun to create them on websites where you can make your own character. Either do this, or draw them by hand to give you an idea of what they are like. See if you can figure out their clothes style.
Finally, work out who your writing inspiration is. Read some of their work and try to replicate their style of writing- but do not copy someone else’s characters, plot, storyline or take sentences from their work itself. Originality is key.