Character: The Grocery Store Effect

By Michael Schilf · April 2, 2010

Choice – the act of selecting or making a decision – marks the difference between people. And how a person goes about making the choice is incredibly revealing.

There are many ways to go about discovering the essential details of your main character: completing questionnaires, understanding backstory, writing bios, etc. But creating a character need not only occur through months of critical research.

Sometimes a quick trip to the grocery store will provide vital answers. Here’s how you do it. Go to the grocery store and SHOP AS YOUR CHARACTER. Truly be the character. Get a cart and walk down the aisles and take your notes. Even the cold-blooded assassin needs to eat. Everybody goes to the grocery store, but not everybody shops the same.

Clearly, this exercise can be applied in any location: order a burger as your character would, pick up some books in the library that only your character would read, walk through the mall and go into stores that your character would shop in. Basically, go out into the real world as your character. What you discover may surprise you.