Last week, I wrote about reasons to do character sheets, and promised I’d post some questions I’ve found useful. So here are some Useful Questions, along with one character’s answer to each.
5 Useful Questions for Characters
1 ) Have you ever had a pet?
Kinnan said: Do I strike you as the pet-keeping kind? I’ve had horses before, as a mercenary, but they were just beasts of burden. Never had a “friendship” with one, as I’ve seen some men have. Never had a qualm about trading one for another, or grieved when one died under me in battle. I fight better afoot, anyway. Rather walk than fuss with feeding and sheltering two instead of one. Wouldn’t mind a bird, but I wouldn’t want one caged. When I get my smithy, I’ll put up a gourd filled with sugar-water, the way they do in Sule, for hummingbirds. I do enjoy watching hummingbirds.
2 ) What’s your favorite food?
Nerissa said: I used to see rich people’s food being prepared in their kitchens. A cook gave me a sip of sherbet once, so cold and sweet and good. She said it was made with ammonz and pieces — almonds and peaches, Brady says.
3 ) Do you like to read? If so, what?
Rhu said: I like to read histories, especially of Layounna and each of her districts. I like to read poetry.
4 ) Are you afraid of anything?
Guthrie said: Of my plans coming to light before I’m ready.
5 ) Are you sorry for anything you’ve done?
Landry said: I’m sorry I let my mother come to the castle with me. I’m sorry I didn’t work harder to make my wife like me. Everything that went wrong after that was the result of those two mistakes. Once they had been made, I had no choice but to do exactly as I did.
Each of those answers took me places in those characters’ lives and characters I didn’t expect. Simple questions, like “What’s your favorite color?” or “Do you like music?” can open a character to you, if you also supply a reason or a memory to go with the simple answer.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Ask your characters the same 10 questions and see what different answers they give. If all their answers sound alike, you’re either writing about doppelgangers or you need to work on your characters a little more.