Interrogating Your Characters

Updated: Mar 3


Sometimes we just need to take a break from writing the bulk of our story and have a little fun with it. This can be done in a ton of different ways. Just type in “writing” and “fun” into Google and you will get thousands of ideas.

One of those ideas is to interview your characters. And while you may have heard of or even tried this exercise before, stick with me, the questions I’m suggesting might be different than the ones you’ve seen before.

Interviewing your characters can help you find out things about them that you didn’t know or give you an idea for a plot point you hadn’t thought of before. Whether you discover something new or not, this exercise can be a fun way to become more in tune with the people (or things) you've created.

Question #1: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in your life?

Asking this question to one of your characters can be incredibly revealing. Even if your story is lighthearted, finding out what your character considers the worst moment of their lives can be very important. And this doesn’t have to be something traumatic. If your character is a 4-year-old boy, his worst moment could be that he didn’t get the toy he wanted for Christmas. That still tells you something about him.

Question #2: Who’s your best friend?

This may seem like a simple question but that all depends on your character. Is your tough-as-nails detective character going to have a best friend? If not, how would they answer this question?

This exercise can also help you get into the voice of your character. What would the dialogue look like if someone asked them this in your story? This question may will reveal more than you expect.

Question #3: What is your greatest fear?

Would your character answer this honestly? I can think of a few of my characters who would lie if they were asked this question. You as the author may know the true answer, but what would your character say? If they are afraid of rejection, are they straightforward about it or do they try to get around the question? Do they even know their greatest fear? Maybe that is one of the realizations they come to by the end of your story.

Question #4: What would a perfect day look like to you?

The answer to this question can tell you a lot. Would your character be at the park with their family or would they be alone in their house with a bottle of wine? Or maybe they would want to have one more day with a person who has passed on? Or is their perfect day killing a couple people and then going home and watching TV?

While you are the ultimate decision maker, we all know that characters sometimes control us more than we control them. While the answer to this question may not be included in your story at all, it might help you figure out what your character desires most.

Question #5: What do you treasure the most?

This can be an object, a person, or even an idea. Do they have a keepsake from their childhood that they would hate to lose? Is there a person they would do anything for? The answer to this question can be crucial. You could write a whole book based on it and many authors have. Think about the question for yourself. What would you do if the person you love the most went missing? Your character might do the exact same thing or something completely different depending on who they are. This question can help you find out your characters motivations. And if you only have a character idea and no story to go with it, your character’s answer to this question could help you create plot points.

There are so many more questions you can ask your characters, but I’ll stop here before I get carried away! What questions would you ask your characters to get to know them better? I’d love to hear some more examples.

About the Author: Sarah Perchikoff is the Brand Curator at the Writer's Workout and a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Writing. When she isn't writing, she is playing with her miniature dachshund, Gracie, navigating through fandom posts on Tumblr, or eating another extra-large order of french fries. You can find her on Twitter @sperchikoff or running The Writer's Workout Tumblr page.

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