Pick a fictional character you want to explore (a character from a story or novel you’re working on, an RPG character, etc.). First, set a timer for five minutes and list each thing that’s important in this character’s life, whether it’s as big as world peace or as small as a kitten. When you’re done, go through and put check-marks next to the most important things–particularly the things that represent some sort of goal, or something that could be threatened.
Next, set a timer for five minutes and list each thing that this character has complained about–to anyone, even himself–within the last two days. What has made him irritable or grumpy or angry? It’s okay to list abstract concepts (“pushy people”) but try to get specific too (“the pushy person at the bar who didn’t want to let him stop at two drinks”).
Compare and contrast the two lists. How many of the irritations intruded on the important things? Put a check-mark next to these as well.
Finally, set a timer for twenty minutes and free-write about ways in which these items could become plots, plot hooks, obstacles, plot complications, dialogue, a means of showing the reader what your character is like, and so on.