5 More Writing Prompts to Help You Develop Your Characters: Domesticity

(If you missed it, you can see the first set of character-development prompts here.)

Since I’ve spent a big chunk of today catching up on household chores, leaving less time for writerly endeavors, I thought it would be a good time to offer another set of prompts.  And this set is inspired by those very chores!

Showing your characters doing mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning isn’t necessary for a lot of stories–but if a person’s apartment is always magically spotless without the story ever mentioning how they maintain it, well, that can come off as lazy writing.  People have to cook (or live on take-out), people have to clean (or live in messy places), people have to take out the trash and do laundry and scrub the toilet.  Or they have to hire someone else to!

Sprinkling in little details about how or when these things get done will make your characters, and their homes, seem more real.  (Usually.  As with all writing advice, use it judiciously.)

  1. Food: do they cook for themselves, go out to eat a lot, or order in?  What sorts of meals do they make or order?  How often do they buy groceries?  Are they diligent about keeping the fridge clean, or do they leave food in there long after it’s gone bad?
  2. Laundry: How often does it get done?  Early in the morning, during the day, or late at night?  In a larger household, who does it?  Does Mom do it for everyone or are the kids responsible for their own after they’re old enough?
  3. Bathroom cleaning: spotlessly maintained or slightly funky?  Old stuff in the medicine cabinet?  Damp towels on the floor?
  4. Dishes: Are they washed by hand or a dishwasher?  After every meal? Once a day? Piled up until nothing clean is left and someone has to wash a spoon and bowl just to eat their cereal in the morning?
  5. Kitchen cleaning: Are the counters clean or spotty? Fallen crumbs collecting in the corners of the room? Refrigerator air vents clogged with dust and wheezing?

There could certainly be more, but you get the basic idea–and some chores would be specific to the setting.  Like if someone lives in an ultra-modern, minimalist home with floor-to-ceiling windows, they’d probably care a lot more about keeping them clean than I do about my normal frame windows.

Which I really don’t.  They don’t get that dirty anyway…

So dig into your characters with these and see if they help you enrich your story.  And have fun with them!

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