Getting into Character: Interview Questions

Character building. We all do it when we’re writing our fictional books – mysteries in particular. We do our best to create memorable characters who get into situations interesting enough for readers to want to follow and learn more. How to come up with character traits for each of our fictional people?

Through a character interview, of course. Here’s a list of twenty questions I’ve posed to the characters who populate my Southern California Mystery series:

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS – Pretend you’re answering for each of your characters. (And always ask WHY?)

  1. What makes you happy? Sad? Angry? Nervous?
  2. What do you like best about yourself? Least?
  3. What is your greatest fear?
  4. Is there anything you’d like to change about your life?
  5. Do you lie? When and why?
  6. What’s your biggest regret?
  7. Where did you go to school?
  8. What is your occupation? Why did you select it? Do you like it?
  9. What are your hobbies? Skills? Talents?
  10. What is your greatest weakness? Strength?
  11. Do you get along with your parents?
  12. Is one of your senses more highly tuned than the others?
  13. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t yet? What?
  14. Do you have a best friend? Who?
  15. Do you have a boy/girlfriend? How did you meet?
  16. How do you decide if you should trust someone? First impression? Intuition?
  17. When you walk into a room, what do you notice first?
  18. Do you have any pets?
  19. What do you think about when you’re alone in the car?
  20. What do you do for fun?

Some of these questions are specific for my mystery series, but generally they may be re-worked to fit most books. The questions should help us writers to get inside the minds of our fictional people. What bothers them? What delights them? What makes them cry?

The answers to the questions will help shape our characters and will help us to get to know them better, which in turn helps us to breathe life into our stories.




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