I don't know if any of you can relate to this, but sometimes, I'm so super-eager to get writing a story, I just can't be bothered to do all of the tiresome prep work - like working on my character backgrounds.
The trouble is - every time I try to take this shortcut and plunge right into the story, it comes back to bite me on the butt.
It doesn't matter how exciting my plot might be - if I haven't got to know my characters properly first they emerge on the page as flat and dull as cardboard cutouts.
|Tough but true - characters NEED fleshing out|
One easy, quick and fun way to get to know your characters a whole lot better before you start writing, is to create a Character Questionnaire.
You can then use this as a template for each new character you create.
I always end up coming back to this tool and I always find that - as well as making my characters more 3 dimmensional - it actually helps hugely with plot ideas too.
And because it's nearly the end of the week, and I've just had a particularly delicious bar of chocolate, and I've just found out that Bruce Springsteen will be touring again next year, and I'm feeling in a particularly generous frame of mind, I'd like to share my Character Questionnaire with you too. (Just think of me as your writerly fairy godmother!)
Feel free to copy and paste the questionnaire below to your own pc - and add and remove questions as you like.
As always, I'd love to know if you already use anything like this in your own writing, and how you find it works...
Till next week,
- How old are they?
- How do they get on with their parents?
- What was their childhood like?
- Think of one key event from their past and how it has shaped them – positive and negative.
- How do they speak? Accent? Catch-phrases etc?
- What are their core needs in life ie; love, security, power?
- How do they react when this core need is denied ie; under stress?
- What is their favourite meal?
- What are they most afraid of? And why? What is the root cause?
- What are their politics?
- What newspaper do they read?
- Do they believe in a God?
- What is their bedroom like?
- Do they have any secrets?
- What makes them jealous?
- What is their favourite swear word?
- What sports do they like?
- Are they superstitious?
- Have they ever been on a protest rally?
- What was their favourite toy as a child?
- What is their greatest hope?
- Who do they most admire?
- How do they behave at a party? ie; shy or outgoing?
- What is their favourite music?
- Do they have any pets?
- Have they ever lost anyone dear to them?
- What is their perfect Saturday night?
- What last made them cry?
- Is their glass half full or half empty?
- Are they popular?
- Who is their best friend?
- What is their favourite season and why?
- What do they think of vegetarianism?
- Do they or have they ever taken drugs?
- Are they happy?
- Would rejection make them angry or sad?
- What car do they drive?
- Do they love themselves?
- What is their motto in life?
- What are their best and worst points physically?
- How do they behave when outside – day and night?
- What physical objects do they associate with their parents?
- How have their attitudes to their parents changed over time?
- Describe their attitudes to: money, the opposite sex, love, insanity, suicide, violence, family life, food, animals.
- What is their motivating force in life?
- What is their mindset at the beginning of your story and what do they want?