When creating a new story, you need to start with some engaging characters. These characters are going to be the major driving force of the story. When creating a new character, you have to do more than come up with a simple name and physical description. You really need to get into the head of your character in order to effectively write from their point of view. The more you know your characters, the better you will be able to write them.
When I create a character, not only do I search through one of many baby naming books to find that perfect name for them, I take a few pages in a notebook and for a moment, pretend I am that character and answer some questions as if I am him/her. I won’t even begin writing a story until I have fleshed out the characters that will inhabit it. When I answer the questions as my character, I learn things about him/her that I never imagined. For example, when I began creating the character of Christine for High School Heroes, I discovered she had a fear of crowds. I hadn’t intended this to be a fear of hers, but it turned into a plot point for my story once I made the discovery.
To help you create realistic and lifelike characters, here is a list of 40 questions you can ask him or her to answer so you can get a better idea of who he or she is.
1. Where were you born? Was it in a hospital or at home? Was there anything unusual about your birth?
2. Are you an only child? If not, what order to you fall in? First, middle, last?
3. What images come to mind when you think of early memories of your father and mother?
4. What traits (physical or mental) did you inherit from your parents?
5. Recall any memories from your life before age 10.
6. Where do you live? How many people live in your house? What are the distinctive features of your home?
7. What are some rules you have in your household? Are they strictly enforced or are they lenient?
8. To whom in your family do you feel the closest?
9. Write a list of 5 things your mother or father say to you all the time.
10. Other than family, who are the most important people in your life?
11. How do you celebrate birthdays? Holidays? Which holiday is most celebrated in your home?
12. Write about the most memorable vacation you’ve had? Where did you go? Would you go back?
13. Make a list of 10 places you would like to visit before you die.
14. What are your hobbies?
15. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Has that changed? If so, what do you want to be now?
16. Think about an important conversation you’ve had with your best friend. What was it about?
17. What do you and your friends do together for fun? When do you usually get together with them?
18. Do you save money to purchase something big, or do you spend it as soon as you get it?
19. What is your favorite TV shows? Movies? Books? Video Games? Music?
20. What are possessions you really treasure? Why?
21. Quickly describe your typical day.
22. Describe a teacher either past or present who has had a great influence on you.
23. How has your relationship changed with your parents through the years? Friends? Other family?
24. Describe a difficult decision you have had to make in your life.
25. Where is your favorite place to have quiet and alone time? Why?
26. How many boyfriends/girlfriends have you had? Do you consider that a lot? Is dating even important to you? Why?
27. When did you realize or how will you know when you have fallen in love?
28. Do you know how to cook? If so, how did you learn? If not, why can’t you cook?
29. Describe a situation that will make you laugh uncontrollably.
30. Have you ever moved to a new place? If yes, what adjustments did you have to make?
31. When you come home at the end of the day, how do you feel? Why?
32. Name your 3 closest friends and describe each of them.
33. Describe the pets you had growing up. Do you have similar pets now? Why or why not?
34. How old were you when you stopped believing in: Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.?
35. What are your greatest fears?
36. What annoys you more than anything else? What do you do when you’re annoyed?
37. What do you think your parents, teachers, friends, family would say about you if they were asked to describe you?
38. Describe yourself in 10 words or less.
39. When looking for inspiration, where do you look? Why?
40. How do you do research? Are you more likely to run to the library or Google? Why?