When we meet someone for the first time, we ask questions to get to know them–unless you’re Toby Keith and you just wanna talk about you. Asking questions is a great way to get to know your characters. But who do you ask? Characters aren’t real people; they can’t talk . . . or can they? For my second Tuesday tip, I’m going to talk about one way to get to know your characters.
Character interviews are a fun way to discover what you know–or don’t know–about your characters. By the end of the interview you should establish these things: origin, back story, family, physical appearance, talents/skills, personality traits (both good and bad), and goals/obstacles.
You can pretend you’re Oprah Winfrey or Stephen Colbert. Just make sure you are in the character’s mind frame when you answer the questions. The easiest method for a character interview is to prepare the questions in advance and answer them as the character. Helpful hint: use a friend as an interviewer so your answers will be more spontaneous. Below are some questions you should ask your protagonist as well as your secondary characters. Feel free to post your answers in the comment section below, I’d love to get to know your characters.
Start with Basics
What is your name? Any nicknames? Who gave them to you?
What do you look like? What is your most distinguishing feature?
What are you wearing right now?
What do you do for a living? If you could change jobs, would you?
Where were you born? Do you live there now? Where would you like to live?
What impression do you make on people? Does this attitude change as they get to know you?
Do you have family? Do you get along with them?
Let’s Dig a Little Deeper
What is your greatest fear? Who have you told this to? Who would you never tell?
Do you have a secret? Does anyone know?
What is your greatest achievement?
What is your greatest characteristic? Your worst flaw? Does this flaw get in the way of your goals or keep you from being who you want to be?
What do you do when you’re angry? When you’re happy? Which of these do you feel more often?
Are you in love? Have you ever been in love? Have you had your heart broken?
What is your greatest regret?
What is your best talent? What talent would you like to have?
If you were cleaning your house, what would you have a hard time getting rid of?
If you had one day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do?
Who is your best friend? Worst enemy? Which would you like to know better?
What is the worst thing that’s happened in your life? The worst thing you’ve done? Did you learn anything from it?