In honor of NaNoWriMo, it’s time to bring back my Character Development Prompts series! I opened my own NaNo novel this year with a scene in a busy bar, so alcohol seemed like a good topic to cover.
As always, I’m using they as a singular, non-gendered pronoun to stand in for the character of your choice.
First, are they a drinker or non-drinker?
- How frequently do they drink, and how much at a time?
- In what setting(s) do they drink? Alone, or only with company?
- What’s their preferred type of alcohol? How choosy are they?
- In social situations, are they more likely to buy drinks for others, or accept free drinks?
- How does imbibing alcohol affect their behavior? Their self-image? Their decision-making?
- How does the amount of alcohol they drink compare to how much they think they drink? If they had a drinking problem, could they realize it themselves, or would they need someone to tell them?
- How high is their tolerance?
- If they drink to excess, how badly do they get hungover, and how do they deal with it?
- Is there anyone in their life whom they must hide the fact that they drink, or the extent of their drinking?
- Is their avoidance of alcohol for medical, moral, or social reasons?
- Have they always been a non-drinker, or did they give it up? How long ago, and for what reason?
- How vigilantly do they avoid situations where they might be asked or expected to drink?
- When in those situations, how do they handle that expectation? What do they tell the ones encouraging them to drink?
- Do they limit or avoid contact with family, friends, or coworkers because the others are drinkers?
- Are they comfortable serving as a designated driver or other type of safeguard? How do they feel about missing out on the “fun” vs. providing a safety net for their friends?
I hope I’ve given you some nice, juicy questions to throw at your burgeoning NaNo characters (or any characters the rest of the year) to help you flesh them out. Not every story is going to have drinking, and please make sure you incorporate appropriate consequences for any truly dangerous behavior if you do–don’t glorify unhealthy drinking culture, but don’t ignore drinking entirely if it’s got a place in your story.