Pretend you are an interviewer for a newspaper, a secret agent, or a novelist, and you are interviewing, or interrogating, a character for your story. Imagine the character is sitting in front of you, you have a new fifty-sheet yellow writing pad and your favorite pencil your cat chewed, and you are about to ask them a list of questions.
Create a character by conducting an interview. Interview your character before you start writing so you can immerse yourself completely in who they are and what they stand for. Interview them and find out who they are.
Why Interview Your Character Before You Start Writing?
When you completely know your character before you start writing, you will have a better understanding of how they will react in different situations. Your character will be more three-dimensional if you know who they are before you start writing.
Your character will be three-dimensional and not flat if you spend time thinking about how they think and feel about life. If you know your character’s worldview it will be easier to keep their personality consistent throughout the story, and you will have a better understanding of how your character will grow and change as they deal with conflict.
37 Questions to Ask Your Characters
These questions will help you find out if your character is kind, honest, loyal, or trustworthy. These questions focus on how your characters think, not what they look like. We will develop their appearance later when the photographer arrives to photograph your characters.
- What did you eat for breakfast? Did you make it yourself? What time do you eat breakfast? Do you wash the pan after you cook the eggs or do you leave it for the maid to clean? Do you have a maid?
- Do you have a cat? How many cats do you have? Do you wish you were a cat? How many litter boxes do you have? Do you clean the litter boxes every day? Or does your maid clean the litter boxes?
- Do you go our for lunch or bring a sack lunch? Do you take an extra long lunch break and charge the company?
- Are you an only child? How many siblings do you have? Are you close or are you estranged?
- If you are adopted, do you know your birth parents? Do you want to find them?
- Do you call your mother every day, or only on her birthday, Mother’s Day, and Christmas? Are your parents alive?
- Do you like to cook? Do you use recipes or make up your own recipes? Do you eat out every night?
- Do you put both socks on first, or one sock, one shoe?
- Do you have a dog? Is the dog a rescue dog or bought from a breeder?
- Or perhaps a hamster? Or do you have any pets?
11 More Questions
- Do you iron your clothes? Who does your laundry? Do you do it yourself or do you send it out?
- Are you married? Are you divorced? How many times have you been married?
- Do you brush and floss your teeth before you go to bed? Do you use an electric toothbrush and a water pick?
- Do you have any cavities?
- Are those your real teeth, or are they dentures, or are they all capped?
- What do you throw into the garbage? Do you recycle?
- Do you live in an apartment or a house?
- Do you own your own home or rent?
- Do you mow your own lawn or use a landscape service?
- Have you ever had a garden?
- Have you ever eaten a carrot right out of the ground?
16 More Questions
- Do you pick your nose?
- Do you bite your fingernails? Do you have any bad habits?
- What is your earliest memory?
- Do you hold the door open for the person behind you or do you let it go and slam in their face?
- Do you take chicken soup to your elderly neighbor when they are sick?
- If you had a dog, would you pick up your dog’s poop when you go for a walk or sneak off and hope no one saw your dog poop on their lawn?
- If your boss asked you to cheat on your invoice and bill your client for extra hours, would you do it?
- On Monday morning, are you excited to go to work, or are you sad?
- If you could go back in time for one day, where would you go?
- You can cure one disease. Which one would you cure?
- Do you honk at the car in front of you if they didn’t see the light turn green?
- Do you exercise or are you a coach potato?
- If a Boy Scout comes to your door selling popcorn, do you hide in the kitchen or buy popcorn?
- Have you ever served in the military?
- What is your greatest fear?
- Would you like me to get you a glass of water? Or would you rather have soda? Wine? Whiskey?
Know Your Characters
Questions like these can help you know your character better. If you’d like even more, read this famous list of 35 questions French novelist Marcel Proust was asked by a friend when he was fourteen years old.
Think of other questions you would like to use in your interview. What questions will help you understand your character’s personality, motivations, and goals?
I wonder how your characters in your current story would answer these questions?
What questions would you want to ask your character in an interview? Let me know in the comments section.
Take fifteen minutes to get to know your character better. Using the above list, interview a character in a story you have already written, or interview a new character for a new story you are writing.
After you have interviewed your character, place your character in line at a department store waiting to return a pair of shoes. Based on your interview with your character, how do you think they will react to a long line and one teller?
It will be interesting to see how characters from different writers will respond to the same situation.
Please share what you have written in the comments and read and comment on someone else’s story. We can share our writing and support each other.