It’s taken me a little while to write this post today. Yesterday’s post was much more intense and (potentially) controversial than usual, and I wasn’t sure how to follow it up. I don’t want to keep talking politics (I’ve said my piece) but I didn’t feel right going into a funny anecdote about my children, either.
So I’ve decided to find some middle ground and talk about writing. Specifically, about the process I’m going through at the moment: Developing my characters.
I talked a bit about my need to revisit my character development a couple of weeks ago, and then touched on some reasons I think it’s important to create fully developed characters at some point during the writing process, whether it’s before you start writing, in the middle of a project (like I’m doing now) or after you’ve finished your first draft. And that’s what I’ve been working on over the last week and a half.
One of the ways to get to know your characters a bit better is to do a ‘Character Interview’. This is where you sit your character down and ask them a whole range of questions — you know, like you do on a first date.
(Disclaimer: It’s a long time since I’ve been on a first date.)
For the non-writer’s in the audience, yes this sounds crazy. Yes, the characters aren’t really real. But trust me, it works.
I’ve had some success with character interviews in the past, but had lost the interview template I used. So I asked around, and was pointed to this awesome character questionnaire. I read it and was hooked.
The quiz has 50 questions in total, although some are really follow-on questions rather than stand-alone ones. I’ve been enjoying putting my characters through their paces on this one, and my husband and I have also used it to get to know some of our RPG characters better.
Click through. Read it. Try it. Let me know what you think.
And in the spirit of fun, I thought I’d share a few of the answers so far. These are answers from a mix of different characters in the urban fantasy novel I’m working on (four different characters are represented here). Hopefully you’ll find some of the answers as amusing and/or interesting as I do.
- If you could change anything about yourself…
- It would be my tusks. They’re… look, it’s not that they’re small. But it never hurts to have bigger ones, right?
- What’s your favourite food?
- My father used to cook me a meal called grautr. It was like… salted porridge with smoked herring. I didn’t like it. Now, it’s the only thing in the world I want to eat. I cooked it for my boyfriend once. He didn’t eat it.
- What’s your favourite drink?
- There’s this Japanese wine that tastes like distilled sunligh– I mean, whiskey. Yeah. Straight up.
- Do you have any hobbies?
- [character 1] Murder, mayhem and motorbikes.
- [character 2] Don’t laugh, but I collect rocks. I told you not to laugh.
- Have you been honest with these questions?
- Only the unimportant ones.
Do you interview your characters? Do you have a particular set of questions you like to use?