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A Quick and Dirty on Establishing Character Personalities: The Break Dance Method


Take all your characters and force them into a theoretical dance club. Make them stand so they form a circle in the middle of them. Now play this song:

As the author, stand back and watch. Who among your characters seizes this opportunity and busts out a few moves? Why do they do that? Who among your characters doesn’t decide to dance? What’s holding them back?

As you analyze this, remember that some characters might have 2 reasons for dancing or not dancing: 1) the real reason they keep to themselves, and 2) the reason they tell other people.


(characters come from my Last Wizard series and The War Queen)

JAICOM: doesn’t dance because he has a proper 1848 Englishman reputation he needs to uphold. And it’s daft.

ZADICAYN: is going through a terrible emotional time but would certainly try to dance anyway if he were in better moods, because he likes to have a good time, even if it’s silly.

DARIK: is the first to jump in the circle with all energy and hype. He’s used to being shunned from society and making a fool of himself, so he’s not worried about the opinions of others. Plus he thinks it’s fun.

BRYNN: is too shy to make the attempt to dance in front of everyone else, torn between doing what’s proper and following her heart. As usual, doing what’s proper wins this time.

JOSEARA: doesn’t dance because she has zero desire to do anything fun and is irritated by the joy of others since she has very little joy in her own life.

KAELIN: isn’t going to dance to this song, but maybe another one. And when he DOES decide to dance, he will do so with calculated purpose, making sure he’s the only one in the circle and all eyes are on him.

ALTARN: wants to dance because she’s tired of always being guarded around those who are scrutinizing her every move. But she doesn’t dance. For that reason.

RATAVIA: fights to get into the dance circle and dances mostly like a fool but with enough zeal no one notices she’s only doing it as a distraction so they’ll stop scrutinizing what Altarn is or is not doing.

Take those reasons you gave each of your characters and expound on them in the story, making their entire personality revolve around them. Doing that will help you govern their actions and reactions to every moment in the story.

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