For some, the brevity of the previous template may not provide enough fuel for thought. You also might be looking for a template that assists in your creation of the character, rather than a simple outline of the main parts. For those who are struggling, here’s an interview you can have with your character to help you with creating your character. This interview comes from a class I had under the tutelage of Jacqueline Lawton and as such, I give the credit to her. Jacequeline Lawton is a playwright and astounding in both her passion and insight. If one has a chance to pick up her works or hear her speak, I recommend it.
In answering this interview, more is better. You can always trim the fat away in your piece, but it’s best to know as much about your character as you possibly can.
The following is paraphrased and adapted (slightly) from plays to work for most pieces of fiction.
The Character Interview:
Interview your characters. Make the answers up if they are not obvious in the piece. Family and personal history are things that may be in the piece.
- When and where as your character born?
- Who are your character’s parents?
- Are they living or dead? If living, do they get along?
- Are they in the piece? If so, what are they like?
- Does your character have children?
- If not, do they want children?
- If so, do they get along? Did they want to have children?
- Does your character have any siblings? If so, are is your character the oldest, youngest, or somewhere in between?
- Does your character have many friends? Any enemies?
- Is your character married, divorced, engaged or single? What is that like?
- What is your character’s religious affiliation? Devout or not? Loyally observant of rituals, feasts, spirituality, etc. or not?
- What is your character’s educational background?
- What is your character’s work experience?
- Who is your character’s best friend? Why?
- Who is your character’s enemy? Why? Do they present danger (physical or emotional) to character?
- Describe one or two childhood experiences that determine or explain the character now. (You might not use these incidents in the story, but they will help you to understand the character’s motivations).
- Name one secret your character has never admitted to anyone.
- Name one of your character’s deepest fears.
- If your character had 3 wishes, what would they be?
- Sloppy or neat?
- Selfish or giving?
- What makes your character laugh?
- What makes your character cry?
- What annoys your character most in the world?
- What is one thing they would like to change about themselves?
Style and Fashion:
- Favorite song?
- Favorite food?
- Favorite book?
- Favorite movie?
- Favorite TV show or cartoon?
- Favorite color?
Habits- smokes, drinks, takes drugs (legality?)?
How do they see themselves?
How do others view them?
Do they have a sense of humor or not? If so, what kind?
How does your character react under pressure?
Can the character see their own faults? Are they capable of self reflection and introspection?
Is your character self-contained, or are they easily influenced by outside forces?
Is your character educated in worldly things or ways? Is this a positive or negative effect on their life and attitudes?
What is your character’s attitude towards money and material things, or lack thereof?
The Character’s Journey:
What is your character’s journey through the piece?
What are they trying to achieve by the end of the piece?
Who or what is in the way of that goal?
Don’t worry if you can’t answer all of these questions. Think of them as a helpful guideline, showing you what you need to work on to make your characters seem more realistic.
Have you ever interviewed a character before? Did something work or not work? Let me know in the comments below!