Monday, June 13, 2011

Nice to Meet You, Mr/Ms Character

We've all met the writers who proudly proclaim they have a character who "just won't behave." Or the one in your crit group who talks about hearing her character's voices in her head. Whether you are smiling in sympathetic agreement (while hushing your obnoxious sidekick character's voice) or rolling your eyes at such imaginary play, don't skim to the end yet. As Rose pointed out a few weeks ago, I think all writers need to admit the benefit of creatively engaging with their characters.

I resonated with the Character Interview method Rose mentioned, because that's exactly what I did when I first started writing STORYBOUND in earnest. I googled "interview with characters" or something like that. I've since modified the original list, but I wish I could credit the original post where I found many of these suggestions. At any rate, I think it's a helpful starting point.




Physical Build:

Hair Color:

Eye Color:

Skin Color:

What happened on the day you were born? What was your birth like? Who was there? Who made up your family of origin? What was your relationship with your mother like? Your father? Siblings?

Tell me about your early years. Where did you go to school? Who were your friends? What was your most embarrassing moment? What did you do in your free time? What was your favorite subject? Your worst one?

Tell me about your first true love. Your first kiss. Anything else from the world of romance you're willing to share?

Tell me about any significant relationships in your life now.

Do you have any bad habits? Any distinguishing features? Recurring traits?

How do you make a living? How would you describe your socioeconomic status? Are you happy with it?
Do you wear any jewelry? What kind of clothes do you wear? How are they made? What is your favorite item of clothing?

Do you have any weapons or special skills? Anything only you can do? Any secrets?

Are you religious? Tell me about that.

What motivates you? What is the single most inspiring thing that's happened in your life. What makes you cry?

Are you facing any problems in your life right now? Why is that a problem? What is the one thing you'd like to know right now?

Obviously, all of these questions may or may not be applicable to your characters, but if you put your imagination to work, you may be surprised where your characters will take the conversation. If you like the idea, you can pour yourself some coffee, grab a cookie,a and pretend you're sharing an afternoon snack with the character in question. So even if you don't have fun with the interview, you'll at least make out with a tasty treat.


  1. Oooh, these are always so fun! Telling details come out in interviews like this.

  2. now I'm just hungry...but thanks for the character building tips. I needed this today.

  3. I like the one about having secrets. that's one I'll add to my list

  4. Wow, Marissa, you are so much more organized than me! I wish I could write it all down like that! Ahhh...someday!

  5. Ha ha, Marissa! I wish you had thought up a bunch of questions specific to eleven-year-olds and saved me the trouble of coming up with them myself. :)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!