character questionnaire 4

Today’s inspiration as I continue developing my character: A Character is Never a Whole Person.


“(The writer) must know an enormous amount more about each of his characters than he will ever use directly.”

Note: I’ve been lifting/adapting my character questions from here and here.


• What type of discipline was your character subjected to at home? Strict? Lenient? Was she overprotected as a child? Sheltered? Her mother was quite lenient, treating her like a grown-up even when she was a child, encouraging her to be independent-minded. She was pretty much left to herself in terms of dealing with her own everyday affairs — playing, solving her personal problems, doing her homework, learning to commute. In terms of moral guidance and dealing with the affairs of the family, her mother always made sure to talk to her as if she were an adult, never keeping anything from her.

• Did they feel rejection or affection as a child? Affection from her mother, who always talked to her.

• What was the economic status of their family? She grew up in family that belonged to the upper crust of the slums.

• When your character thinks of her childhood kitchen, what smell does she associate with it? Why is that smell so resonant for her? A faint scent of something unsanitary yet strangely appetizing, a hint of sewer stench combined with the aroma of food–eggs, dried fish–being fried in old, re-used oil. She spent her childhood in the slums.

• What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting? It’s the memory of her father kissing her on the forehead, slinging a bag on his shoulder, and walking away. She didn’t see him again for a very long time. It’s the memory of watching her father make love to a woman that was not her mother. She never told anyone about it. Up until now, she doesn’t know for sure how it has affected her; she just knows that she has not forgotten it.

• It’s Saturday at noon. What is your character doing? Give details. If she’s eating breakfast, what exactly does she eat? If she’s stretching out in her backyard to sun, what kind of blanket or towel does she lie on? She’s multi-tasking: cramming to finish cooking lunch, while participating in the meeting that’s currently taking place at her house.

• Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where is she going? What does she wear? Who will she be with? She’s preparing to go out on a dinner date with a guy she met two days ago (introduced by a common friend). She just got out of a bad relationship, so she wants to be prudent. She’s wearing a very casual attire: a pair of skinny jeans, a black halter top, a pair of leather flats.


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