Writing Rant : Character Questionnaire

Have you ever had a hard time making a character real? Maybe you’re having difficulty in creating depth to characters? I know the feeling. In the story I’m currently writing, I use my children as the main characters. Ok, they are not exact copies of my children, but I use a lot of their characteristics. It’s pretty much a no-brainer. When it came to the villian though, I was having a hard time defining him. I did not want him to be evil incarnate. I wanted him to seem likeable at first glance and only when being opposed and under stress would he show his unstable, evil qualities. I was really having a hard time getting to know him.

It was time to start asking him some questions.

From what little I knew about my character, I had a good idea of what I wanted him to look like. Matthew McConaughey. I wanted him to be beautiful and charming on the outside. I needed to know more about the inside though.

So, what questions to ask?

The writing group I’m a part of had a discussion about it and we all came up with some ideas. I will list them below. I think we did a good job of it but I’m sure there are lots of questions we missed. This is a good start though.

1. What is your favorite color?

2. What sort of music do you listen to? Favorite song?

3. Are you religious? What religion?

4. What are your political views, if any?

5. What is your favorite food?

6. What is your favorite beverage?

7. What is your favorite dessert?

8. Do you have any phobias/fears?

9. Do you have any siblings?

10. Are your parents alive?

11. Were you raised by your parents? Both, just one, niether?

12. What is your most embarassing moment?

13. What is your favorite childhood memory?

14. Do you have a pet? What kind?

15. Do you have a best friend?

16. Gay, straight, bi, celibate?

17. What sort of education do you have?

18. What sort of work do you do? Past jobs?

19. Are you social or do you prefer to be alone?

20. Are you quick -tempered or calm natured?

21. Are you confidant or insecure?

22. Do you have any bad habits?

23. Do you have any physical flaws?

24. What are your life goals?

25. Do you have any hobbies?

26. Do you have any pet-peeves?

27. Do you frequently remember your dreams? Are they good or bad?

28. What is your astrological sign?

29. What is one thing you would give your life for?

30. Have you ever been in love?

31. Do you have any children?

32. What is your greatest weakness? Strength?

33. Have you ever done something you regret?

34. Have you ever hurt someone just for fun?

35. Do you have a sense of humor?

36. Do you follow fashion trends?

37. Have you ever killed someone?

38. Would you define yourself as a hero or villian? (remember this is your characters definition of himself)

39. What is one thing that you’ve always wanted to do?

40. Do you believe in destiny?

I think these questions cover the basics. Of course, not every character will need to answer every question and some characters will require you to come up with new, off the wall questions.

I have not put my main characters through this questionnaire since I know them so well, but even so, while composing this list, it reminded me that my youngest son loves coffee. He drinks it every morning. He drinks it hot, cold or in a frozen smoothie. He’s crazy about coffee and has been so for years. He’s 13. It’s a bit unusual for someone so young to like coffee so much. At least, I think so. Point is, it’s something about him that I am going to use in my story. It’s something that will define him better…set him aside from the other characters.

It makes me wonder if there is anything I’ve missed about my other son. I may have to run them both through the list and see what I come up with. Fortunately for me, they are real people and I can have them answer instead of myself doing it for them.

That gives me an interesting thought. What about asking people I know to fill out this questionnaire? Some of the answers I get could be things I would never think of. It might be so intriguing that I would want to create a character after them. What an awesome idea! I think I’ll do that.

Anyway, I hope this helps someone in some way. I just thought the idea of a character questionnaire was such a good idea that I wanted to share it with the world.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Writing Lessons. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Writing Rant : Character Questionnaire

  1. Joe Harwell says:

    Great character development questions. When I started reading the first draft on my novel ONE DRUG to some writing groups in February, someone pointed out that almost all the characters first names began with the letter J. OMG, I never really noticed until they pointed it out. Whew, close call.

  2. winquier says:

    I love the character questionnaire. What a helpful tool. My current book is a memoir but I can see the benefit of answering most of the questions for my characters as well. Despite having an intimate knowledge of each character I notice some questions I couldn’t answer with certainty. I’m going to print out the questions and keep them handy for future projects. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s