4. ‘If’ Stage
- What if your character’s religion was different? If your character believed something very different than what he does, how would he act with the other religion? If he was a catholic, what kind of catholic would he be? If he was an atheist, what kind of atheist would he be? If he was a Christian, what kind of a Christian would he be? Would he hold to this or that denomination? Would he tithe, go to church, or just act the same as before?
- What if your character lived in a different world?If your character grew up in our world (if this is a fantasy story), what jobs, skills, habits would he have? What if he grew up in Narnia or some other fantasy world that someone has created? What would be different about him, and what would be the same?
- What if your character had a different history (family, friends, etc.)? If your character grew up in a broken home, what would he be like if he grew up, instead, in a close-knit home? If his family had been from a different religion, or immigrants, or richer, or poorer, what would be different? If that girl hadn’t turned him down, if that friend had betrayed him, what would he have done?
- What if your character was a different gender? If your character is a boy, what would he have been like if he was a girl? If your character is a girl, what would she be like if she was a boy? This is a really hard one, but it provides some very interesting insights into your character, and into the opposite gender from you as well. 🙂
- What if your character had a different occupation or abilities? What if your character was an archer instead of a swordmaster? What if he was a policeman instead of a doctor? What if he was a king instead of a businessman? What if he was skilled at wrestling? What if he liked art?
- What if your character was from a different race or nation? What if he was a centaur? What if he was an Elf? What if he was from a different nation? If you are not doing fantasy (and of course there is only one race on earth), you can still look at the very different cultural people groups of our world and change that.
- What if your character looked different? Let us say you know that your character hates being short: what if he was tall? Change his appearance. If your character is a girl, this has more of an effect, I think, but not much more.
This stage will force you to violently separate your character from your perception of his circumstances and attributes: from everything that he has no choice about and some that he does. You will need to imagine what your character would be like if he was in a different place or if he was in a different situation or if he looked different, etc. You might not know what your character really is in many of these questions, but that just makes it easier. Simply try various combinations of these variables and see how your character changes, and what stays the same.
Have any of you got anything yet?