character questionnaire 3

As I continue developing my character, I keep in mind this input from The Script Lab:

“When it comes to creating a character that truly stands out – one that jumps off the page and sticks with the reader like a jingle that takes up a permanent residence in your head – it’s almost always because the writer knows the character intimately well. The writer knows the entire iceberg.

“Conversely, when the writer forces a character to do or say something simply because the writer needs that character to fulfill a particular plot requirement, the execution of the scene will inevitably read as forced and contrived. However, if the writer knows the character down to every last detail of his or her core, when it’s time for the character to take action or deliver a line of dialogue, it’s the character who writes for the writer – never the other way around.”

So I trod on, a bit at ime…


• What kind of distinguishing facial features does your character have? She has big, round eyes, the kind that seem to be in constant awe of something. She has a distinctive mole on her left temple; it’s big enough and close enough to the corner of her left eye to cause some (superstitious) speculation over what it must signify. She has a small face, which emphasizes her big eyes. She also has a tiny, well-formed (not flat, not too sharp) nose and thin lips.

• Does your character have a birthmark? Where is it? What about scars? How did he get them? See description of mole, above.  She gets a long gash on her right arm during a rally gone awry in the late 80s, resulting in a forever-visible scar.

• What is in your character’s refrigerator right now? On her bedroom floor? On her nightstand? In her garbage can? She has chocolates in her refrigerator, packs of chips and a couple of cans of corned beef on top, empty junk food packages in her garbage can. Her bedroom floor is spotless. She has a bedside table with a huge stack of books, notebooks and envelopes. At night there is always a water bottle under her bed.

• Look at your character’s 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? She wears furry slippers at home. Sometimes when it’s warm, she walks barefoot around the house, loving the coolness of the floor. Outside she’s into practical, comfortable ballerina flats, or sandals, or sneakers when she needs to do a lot of walking.

• Your character is doing intense house cleaning. What is easy for her to throw out? What is difficult for her to part with? Why? She has a certain sentimentality that makes it difficult to throw out anything that may have been a gift, or a hand-me-down, or that she may have acquired or used in connection to a specific event, or that reminds her of important people in her life. What she finds easy to throw out — in fact what she is very eager to destroy or eliminate without a trace — are the things that cause her embarrassment: ugly photos, incriminating notes and letters, records of debts.


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