Creating Characters

I’m teaching a brand new elective at my middle school this semester — Advanced Creative Writing — and I’m lucky enough to be working with ten of the coolest, smartest 7th graders you ever did meet.  They’re working on independently selected writing projects, from novels to short stories to screenplays.  Along the way, I’ll be sharing some of our activities and asking for some of your favorite strategies to get the creative juices flowing.  I emphasize the concept of "mentor authors" in this class, encouraging kids to study what really works in their favorite authors’ writing and learn from it, so I’m hoping some of you writers out there (published and pre-published) might join in our conversation!

This morning, we worked on some introductory character development, answering these questions as our main characters:

What did you have for breakfast today?
What does your bedroom look like?
What are you worried about right now?
What do you want more than anything?
Who’s your best friend?
Who’s your worst enemy?

I always scribble along with the kids when we have a writing prompt, and today, I discovered some interesting things about a brand new main character who’s been starting to whisper in my ear. 

What about you?  What are some of your favorite strategies for getting to know your characters?