Character Questions – A List of Helpful Questions for Brainstorming and Intuitive Writing Drills
Character Questionnaire 1
This questionnaire is found in Gotham Writers Workshops Writing Fiction.
You might start with questions that address the basics about a character:
What is your characters name? Does the character have a nickname?
What is your characters hair color? Eye color?
What kind of distinguishing facial features does your character have?
Does your character have a birthmark? Where is it? What about scars? How did he get them?
Who are your characters friends and family? Who does she surround herself with? Who are the people your character is closest to? Who does he wish he were closest to?
Where was your character born? Where has she lived since then? Where does she call home?
Where does your character go when hes angry?
What is her biggest fear? Who has she told this to? Who would she never tell this to? Why?
Does she have a secret?
What makes your character laugh out loud?
When has your character been in love? Had a broken heart?
Then dig deeper by asking more unconventional questions:
What is in your characters refrigerator right now? On her bedroom floor? On her nightstand? In her garbage can?
Look at your characters feet. Describe what you see there. Does he wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Is he in socks that are ratty and full of holes? Or is he wearing a pair of blue and gold slippers knitted by his grandmother?
When your character thinks of her childhood kitchen, what smell does she associate with it? Sauerkraut? Oatmeal cookies? Paint? Why is that smell so resonant for her?
Your character is doing intense spring cleaning. What is easy for her to throw out? What is difficult for her to part with? Why?
Its Saturday at noon. What is your character doing? Give details. If hes eating breakfast, what exactly does he eat? If shes stretching out in her backyard to sun, what kind of blanket or towel does she lie on?
What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where is she going? What does she wear? Who will she be with?
Character Questionnaire 2
This questionnaire was invented by the noted French author Marcel Proust. These questions are frequently used in interviews so you may want to pretend youre interviewing your characters.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What is your current state of mind?
What is your favorite occupation?
What is your most treasured possession?
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What is your favorite journey?
What is your most marked characteristic?
When and where were you the happiest?
What is it that you most dislike?
What is your greatest fear?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Which living person do you most despise?
What is your greatest regret?
Which talent would you most like to have?
Where would you like to live?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What do you most value in your friends?
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Whose are your heroes in real life?
Which living person do you most admire?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasions do you lie?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What are your favorite names?
How would you like to die?
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
What is your motto?
THE 100+ QUESTIONS
Welcome to over one hundred of the dumbest questions about your character. These are things that, if someone were to ask you in real life, you could answer without giving it any thought whatsoever. Most characters, however, can’t answer this because authors never think about it – it’s unimportant. Well, these things are going to help you define you character more.
Some tips: Answer these in character, but only in a situation where your character would be 100% honest with themselves and with the person asking the question. Otherwise, answer as an author, and still be 100% honest.
1. What about you is heroic?
2. What about you is social? What do you like about people?
3. Of what benefit could you be to the current group?
4. Why would you choose to join the current group?
5. Invent an adventure/plot that your character would actively undertake (as opposed to just tagging along)?
1. What is your real, birth name? What name do you use?
2. Do you have a nickname? What is it, and where did you get it?
3. What do you look like? (Include height, weight, hair, eyes, skin, apparent age, and distinguishing features)
4. How do you dress most of the time?
5. How do you “dress up?”
6. How do you “dress down?”
7. What do you wear when you go to sleep?
8. Do you wear any jewelry?
9. In your opinion, what is your best feature?
10. What’s your real birth date?
11. Where do you live? Describe it: Is it messy, neat, avant-garde, sparse, etc.?
12. Do you own a car? Describe it.
13. What is your most prized mundane possession? Why do you value it so much?
14. What one word best describes you?
1. What was your family like?
2. Who was your father, and what was he like?
3. Who was your mother, and what was she like?
4. What was your parents marriage like? Were they married? Did they remain married?
5. What were your siblings names? What were they like?
6. What’s the worst thing one of your siblings ever did to you? What’s the worst thing you’ve done to one of your siblings?
7. When’s the last time you saw any member of your family? Where are they now?
8. Did you ever meet any other family members? Who were they? What did you think of them?
1. What is your first memory?
2. What was your favorite toy?
3. What was your favorite game?
4. Any non-family member adults stick out in your mind? Who were they, and how did you know them? Why do they stick out?
5. Who was your best friend when you were growing up?
6. What is your fondest, childhood memory?
7. What is your worst childhood memory?
1. How old were you when you went on your first date?
2. It is common for one’s view of authority to develop in their adolescent years. What is your view of authority, and what event most affected it?
3. What were you like in high school? What “clique” did you best fit in with?
4. What were your high school goals?
5. Who was your idol when you were growing up? Who did you first fantasize about in your life?
6. What is your favorite memory from adolescence?
7. What is your worst memory from adolescence?
1. Do you have a job? What is it? Do you like it? If no job, where does your money come from?
2. What is your boss or employer like? (Or publisher, or agent, or whatever.)
3. What are your co-workers like? Do you get along with them? Any in particular? Which ones don’t you get along with?
4. What is something you had to learn that you hated?
5. Do you tend to save or spend your money? Why?
Likes & Dislikes Questions
1. What hobbies do you have?
2. Who is your closest mundane friend? Describe them and how you relate to them.
3. Who is your worst mundane enemy? Describe them and why you don’t get along.
4. What bands do you like? Do you even pay attention?
5. What tape or CD hasn’t left your player since your purchased it? Why?
6. What song is “your song?” Why?
7. What’s been your favorite movie of all time?
8. Read any good books? What were they?
9. What do you watch on the Television?
10. When it comes to mundane politics, do you care? If so, which way do you tend to vote? If not, why don’t you care?
11. What type of places do you hang out in with your mundane friends?
12. What type of places do you hang out in with your normal friends?
13. What annoys you more than anything else?
14. What would be the perfect gift for you?
15. What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
16. What time of day is your favorite?
17. What kind of weather is your favorite?
18. What is your favorite food? What is your least favorite food?
19. What is your favorite drink? (Coffee, Coke, Juice, Beer, Wine, etc.)
20. What’s your favorite animal? Why?
21. Do you have any pets? Do you want any pets? What kind?
22. What do you find most relaxing? (Not as in stress relief, but as something that actually calms you down.)
23. What habit that others have annoys you most?
24. What kind of things embarrass you? Why?
25. What don’t you like about yourself?
26. How would you like to look?
Sex & Intimacy Questions
1. Would you consider yourself straight, gay, bi, or something else? Why?
2. Who was the first person you had sex with? When did it happen? What was it like? How well did it go?
3. Have you ever had a same-sex experience? Who with, what was it like, and how did it go?
4. What is your deepest, most well-hidden sexual fantasy? Would you ever try it?
5. What was the wildest thing you’ve ever done, sexually? Who was it with and when did it happen?
6. Is there any sexual activity that you enjoy and/or practice regularly that can be considered non-standard? (Bondage, Fantasy Play, etc.) Why do you like it?
7. Is there any sexual activity that you will not, under any circumstances, do?
8. Do you currently have a lover? What is their name, and what is your relationship like? What are they like? Why are you attracted to them?
9. What is the perfect romantic date?
10. Describe the perfect romantic partner for you.
11. Do you ever want to get married and have children? When do you see this happening?
12. What is more important – sex or intimacy? Why?
13. What was your most recent relationship like? Who was it with? (Does not need to be sexual, merely romantic.)
14. What’s the worst thing you’ve done to someone you loved?
Drug & Alcohol Questions
1. How old were you when you first got drunk? What was the experience like?
Did anything good come out of it? Did anything bad come out of it?
2. Do you drink on any kind of regular basis?
3. What kind of alcohol do you prefer?
4. Have you ever tried any other kind of “mood altering” substance? Which one(s)? What did you think of each?
5. What do you think of drugs and alcohol? Are there any people should not do? Why or why not?
1. What one act in your past are you most ashamed of? What one act in your past are you most proud of?
2. Have you ever been in an argument before? Over what, with who, and who won?
3. Have you ever been in a physical fight before? Over what, with who, and who won?
4. What do you feel most strongly about?
5. What do you pretend to feel strongly about, just to impress people?
6. What trait do you find most admirable, and how often do you find it?
7. Is there anything you think should not be incorporated into the media or art (sex, violence, greed, etc.,)? If so, what and why, and if not, why not?
8. Do you have any feelings in general that you are disturbed by? What are they? Why do they disturb you?
9. What is your religious view of things? What religion, if any, do you call your own?
10. Do you think the future is hopeful? Why?
11. Is an ounce of prevention really worth a pound of cure? Which is more valuable? Why do you feel this way?
12. What’s the worst thing that can be done to another person? Why?
13. What’s the worst thing you could actually do to someone you hated?
14. Are you a better leader or follower? Why do you think that? If you think the whole leader-follower archetype is a crock of shit, say so, and explain why?
15. What is your responsibility to the world, if any? Why do you think that?
16. Do you think redemption is possible? If so, can anyone be redeemed, or are there only certain circumstances that can be? If not, why do you think nothing can redeem itself?
17. Is it okay for you to cry? When was the last time you cried?
18. What do you think is wrong with MOST people, overall?
Post-Supernatural Awareness Questions
1. When did you go through whatever made you supernatural? What was it like (in your opinion)?
2. What do you think now of being supernatural? Is it cool, or have you been screwed?
3. Do you have a mentor? Who are they? How did you become their student?
4. Do you have any magical items? Where did you get them?
5. What do you think of the other denizens of the World of Darkness? Why for each? (If you haven’t met something, do you think it exists, and if it does, is that bad or good?)
6. Think of a major event that happened during your training/initiation. What was it?
7. What is something you had to learn during your training that you hated? Why did you hate it?
1. What is the thing that has frightened you most? Do you think there is anything out there that’s scarier than that? What do you think that would be?
2. Has anyone or anything you’ve ever cared about died? How did you feel about it? What happened?
3. What was the worst injury you’ve ever received? How did it happen?
4. How ticklish are you? Where are you ticklish?
5. What is your current long term goal?
6. What is your current short term goal?
7. Do you have any bad habits? If so, what are they, and do you plan to get rid of them?
8. If you were a mundane person, what would you do with your life? What occupation would you want, and how would you spend all your time?
9. What time period do you wish you had lived in? Why? (Looking at this as an attempt to change history doesn’t count.) What appeals to you about this era?
10. How private of a person are you? Why?
11. If you were to gain an obscenely large sum of money (via an inhertiance, a lawsuit, a lottery, or anything else) what would you do with it?
12. What would you wish for if you found a genie?
13. What do you do when you are bored?
14. What is the most frightening potential handicap or disfigurement you can conceive of? What makes it so frightening?