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Writing Exercises – The Four Questions of Character


For your own story idea:

Identify your main character, and answer these four questions:

  • What does your character want?
  • Why does he/she want this?
  • What’s standing in his/her way?
  • What are the consequences of your character getting what he/she wants?

Brainstorm many possibilities for each question and mix and match your answers until you come up with a combination that you feel will give you a unique plot.


As practice, take your favorite children’s book for any age group and answer the four questions above. How do the answers affect the book’s plot?

Laura Backes

Laura is the founder and publisher of Children's Book Insider, and co-founder of Her work has appeared in Writer's Digest and The Writer magazines, as well as on numerous writing blogs. She's the technical editor of "Writing Children's Books for Dummies", and her book "Best Books for Kids Who (Think They) Hate to Read" is published by Random House. Through webinars, workshops, and online courses, Laura has taught thousands of children's book writers how to improve their craft .