The day in the life approach to developing a character is focused on describing a normal day in the character’s life before something important happens to change it. Most central characters begin a story in their normal world. At some point, an event happens that takes them out of their normal world and sends them on whatever journey the story has in store for them. Until that journey begins, your characters probably have a normal routine to their day that says a great deal about who they are and how they conduct their life.

  • The beauty of analyzing a character’s day is that there are always opportunities to delve as deeply into their actions as you want. You can take an event as simple as a person’s drive to work and learn a great deal about them.
  • What kind of car do they drive?
  • Do they keep it clean or is it messy?
  • What, if anything, do they listen to on the radio?
  • Are they the sort of person that fiddles with the radio as they drive, never satisfied with what they are listening to?
  • Are they the sort of person who shaves or puts on makeup while they drive?
  • Do they talk on the phone as they drive?
  • Do they get upset with other drivers?
  • Do they tailgate?
  • Are they careful or nervous drivers?
  • Do they plan their day as they drive?
  • Do they speed or run red lights?

As you assemble a person’s day you get a good idea of their traits and flaws. You can also determine who they interact with and care about, what their economic status is, what their general level of happiness or unhappiness is, and plenty of other details. The key is to go deep enough to get comfortable with the character and feel like you know them and know how they react in general to the events in their lives.

When approaching the daily routine, you can go a number of ways. You can move chronologically, go by major events, or just ask random questions about their day and see what the answers are. You can write it as if it were a short story, a daily planner, or surveillance. Find an approach that you are comfortable with and explore the character.

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