Over the last few weeks I’ve been wondering how I could make my characters stronger and more convincing. I eventually decided to create a set of questions to ask my characters, but couldn’t find a questionnaire that fit perfectly. I’ve singled out six (and there are a lot of them – I realise I’m not helping things by adding my own), and put together a set of questions based loosely on those.
I started out hoping for twenty questions, which turned into twenty-five, which turned into me trying to justify thirty and then forty. I arrived at thirty-five, and it’ll stay thirty-five.
These are the six pages I looked at for inspiration – some of these list amazing questions I would never have thought to ask my characters (such as ‘Which colour evokes strong emotion?’ or ‘Which sound triggers a good/bad memory?’) and they are very worth checking out:
It was hard to cut it down from the original sixty-something questions I ended up with, but I think I’ve narrowed it down to a good selection, and will use this questionnaire from now on for all character building purposes 😉
I’ve tried to put them into categories, starting with basics, then family and childhood, and finally delving into their personality. Feel free to rearrange things should you choose to borrow this list, and put your own spin on it 🙂
1) What is their full name?
2) How old are they? How old are they mentally?
3) What do they look like? (Include all marks, such as scars, tattoos, wooden legs,…)
4) What kind of clothes are they most comfortable in? What kind of clothes make them uncomfortable?
5) Do they have any quirks, speech patterns, overused words,…?
6) Do they have any allergies, diseases, disabilities, mental health problems, phobias…?
7) What is in their pockets? What do they never leave their home without?
8) Have they ever been in love? What happened?
9) Do they have any special abilities?
10) Are they close to their family?
11) Did they have a happy childhood?
12) What is their earliest memory?
13) Are they honest?
14) What is their biggest secret? Why have they never told anyone?
15) Are they superstitious?
16) Do they have a sense of humour?
17) Do they think first, or act first?
18) Do they have any prejudices?
19) Do they argue, or avoid conflict?
20) Are they more comfortable to lead or to follow?
21) What are their pet peeves?
22) How do they cope in social situations? Do they act differently, or are they themselves?
23) What is their biggest fear?
24) What is their strength? Their weakness?
25) What is their deepest regret?
26) What do they want the most? What are they willing to do to get it?
27) What is their philosophy on life?
28) Are they religious?
29) Have they ever lost someone close to them? How did that loss affect them?
30) Are they holding onto something from the past?
31) What do they love most in life?
32) How do they want to die?
33) What is their most treasured possession?
34) Have they ever killed anyone? If yes – how do they feel about having killed? If no – under which circumstances would they kill?
35) Who would they turn to if they ever needed help desperately?
What character building methods do you use? Have you used questionnaires before, and did you find them helpful? What’s your favourite way of developing your characters? Grab a cookie (and some tea), and let’s chat!
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