Are you ready to bring your characters to life?
There are many more than 5 character questions I love to answer, but let’s get started with my top five.
When we sit down to write usually we have a character in mind; someone who wakes us out of a deep sleep to tell their story. Creating a character as a writer and creating one as an actress are very similar except in writing you get to be all characters all the time and no one else is in charge of the hiring and firing.
1. What do they look like?
I love delving into this one. Sometimes I have an actor in my head so the look comes quickly. Sometimes I am inspired from faces I have seen on the street or in art. Renaissance era paintings are wonderful for this. I once taught this exercise in a 6th grade classroom and a 2nd grade classroom and the kids created very different characters. One lived in a cave and was purple with orange spots and carried a pink backpack. That fellow was not of this earth. Sometimes it is a great question to ask and just let your mind wander and create someone completely new.
2. How do they communicate?
Do they speak, whistle, use Sign Language? Do they write or draw or use telepathy? Do they have an accent? Can you understand them? Do they have an accent or do they mumble? Brad Pitt did a movie called “Snatch” and played a character who was almost, if not completely, unintelligible. A true test of an actor is if he can communicate without words. Make strong choices. Do they cuss? Do they abhor cussing? Do they never use the word, “I?”
3. What do they want?
This is what drives the character to take the actions they take. Do they want money, fame, the girl, world peace? Do they want a farm, a horse, a country? Everything they do in the story will drive them towards this goal. Make it powerful enough to do so.
4. How do they handle adversity?
Some people shrink and put their head in the sand. Some take action because that is how they handle it. Others will strike out in fear. Any of these choices will affect how they deal with the obstacles that come their way as they move through their narrative.
5. What is their job?
How do they make money? Are they independently wealthy? Do they live with family or parents who foot the bill? How do they feel about this? It may be one of their driving forces that heads them to attaining what they want.
Each of your choices needs to be strong and clear to create characters with depth and interest. These questions will lead to more questions, and soon you’ll have an intimate picture to weave into your novel and ignite the imagination of your readers!
Ready to take this exercise further? Download my full 25 questions now: