Monday, March 21, 2016

Getting to Know Your Character’s Backstory with Dorian Cirrone

Writing Prompt
One of the trickiest tasks for writers is getting to know a character so deeply that he or she seems like a real person with hopes, dreams, faults, etc. We must know everything about a character’s backstory, even if only some of that history makes it onto the page.
There are many ways to get to know your character. One writing prompt I now use grew out of the plot of my forthcoming novel The First Last Day. It’s about a girl who creates a picture with magic paints and makes a wish that summer will never end. As a result, her deepest desire comes true. She gets to live her last day of summer over and over again.
Writing Exercise: Write in detail about a day in your character’s life that she would want to repeat over and over again and why.
Additional Exercise: To discover even more about your character, write about a day she would never want to live over again, a day she would like to forget forever.
Remember, even if these exact events are never mentioned in your story, the experiences will lie under the surface, informing much of your character’s necessary desire and motivation.
Dorian Cirrone has worked as a door-to-door survey taker, a dance teacher, a choreographer, an assistant city editor for a daily newspaper, and a college English instructor. Writing for children and teens has been her best job so far. She is the author of several books, shorts stories, and poems and has taught writing workshops for SCBWI Florida and other organizations. Her newest novel, The First Last Day (Simon and Schuster/Aladdin) will be out June 6, 2016 and is available for pre-order online and in bookstores.

For more writing tips on topics such as generating ideas, hooking the reader at hello, etc., visit Dorian's blog at:


  1. Great way to create said or unsaid motivational triggers!

    1. I agree -- this was a great prompt! Thanks for visiting My Word Playground @Manju Howard.

  2. mmm, interesting prompt!
    I'll try it (like right now!) Thanks!