With our recent first page critiques we’ve spoken a lot about the importance of a compelling main character – one that draws readers in from the very first page and which transcends (as best you can) the stereotypes common in our genre.
One tool in developing a fully-realized character is to create a questionnaire in which your character gets to answer some key questions about their background, belief and aspirations. An example of such a questionnaire can be found at The Script Lab website, but I thought it may be fun to outline some of the key questions we at TKZ believe are important to know about your character. After all, how can your readers possibly believe in a character that you, as its creator, hardly know yourself.
So here, in no particular order, are some of the key questions I think need to be included in a character questionnaire.
What is it you fear most?
What is it you want the most?
Who are the most influential people in your life, and why?
How do you feel about your mother? Your father? Other members of your family?
What were some of the defining moments in your life?
What tragedies or disappointments have you endured thus far?
What could you not live without? What is your greatest weakness?
What are your strengths?
What do you like the most/least about your appearance?
What is your home like?
How would you describe your appearance?
Do you care about what other people think about you?
Whose opinion do you value?
How do you view authority? Religion? Politics?
Describe your ideal ‘mate’
How have your relationships progressed in the past?
What was your biggest heartbreak?
What gestures do you use?
What speech patterns do you use? Do you swear? Are you self conscious about how you speak?
What is the biggest chip on your shoulder?
So fellow TKZers, do you have any other questions to add to the list? (I’m sure I’ve forgotten something!) Do you use any software to help develop character dossiers or backgrounders? What other techniques do you use to get beneath a character’s skin?