Tuesday, August 9, 2011

10 Questions for Your Characters

Before I make that first keystroke on any first draft, my heart afire with hope while my brain is screaming "Seriously? You're doing this again?", I get to know my characters. My logic is the better I know them, the better I can write them. Of course, there are always surprises along the way, but having some basic knowledge of each of them makes the journey a great deal smoother.

Here are some examples of questions I ask:

10. How old are you?

9. Where do you live?

8. Are you shy?

7. What are you most afraid of? (this is wonderful information)

6. Are you good with people?

5. What do you do for a living?

4. How observant are you?

3. Do other people's opinions matter to you?

And the two most important...

2. What do you want?

1. How is that different from what you need?

Bonus question:

Why won't you say or do what I want you to do?


  1. Love the bonus question - usually asked very loudly in the wee small hours :)

  2. When you have to ask the bonus question, you know you've got a character who has come to life. Hard to work with, but really the best kind, because they make the story breathe.

  3. Elspeth - What a great way to make our characters real! I love those questions! I also like to ask my characters, "What are you good at?" and "What is really hard for you to do?"

  4. These are great - I also like (for women) What's in your purse? And for all - What do you believe you are here for and what does the universe keep telling you that you are here for?

  5. Sarah; Exactly!!!

    Kit; That is the upside of having to ask the bonus question, isn't it?

    Margot; Oh, good questions? But...sometimes those pesky characters lie.

    Jan; I love the purse question? I wonder how many of us could answer that question correctly? I know I'd miss a few items. I swear things breed in there.

  6. May I also add to "What do you want": "What's in the way of your getting it?" (although sometimes I find that they don't know the answer to that).

    I also learned in the screenwriting workshop to ask the character "Why are we meeting you at this time?"


  7. These are very like the worksheets we used in the Build A Hero workshop at RomCon last weekend.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  8. Elisa; Unfortunately, my initial response to your last question was "Because you put me into the script, you idiot." *sigh* It's probably a good thing I wasn't at the conference!

    Terry; Thanks for letting me know!

  9. Ah, that bonus question. The only one any author asks on a regular basis.


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