Assignment #3: Character Questionnaires
In case you missed the first two assignments I posted last year, you can find them on my blog. Assignment 1 is on beat sheets (super important for everyone, as I’ve yet to have a mentee who didn’t need help in some form with pacing. It’s a very common problem.) and assignment 2 is on finding a CP (also super important so you can find your tribe). For this assignment, we’re going to talk a little bit about character questionnaires. What they are, how they work, and why you need them.
What are they?
They’re pretty simple. It’s a list of questions you answer as your character. If you google character questionnaires, you’ll find loads of examples on questions you can use. I have a total of 300+ questions covering almost twenty pages. Yes, it’s a lot, but it has always helped me get in the mind of my characters. I use Scrivener and a couple years ago tackled the project to break them down into categories for ease of finding the answers I need at a later time.
How do they work?
The idea is to answer the questions rapid style (remember playing the word association game by saying the first thing that came to mind? That’s exactly what you’re doing here.). You don’t want to think about how your character would answer it; you just want to answer it. Another cool tidbit: the questions you leave unanswered sometimes tell as much about the characters as their actual answers do.
Why do you need them?
For one major reason: deeper and more consistent POV. If you know your character inside and out (which you will by the time you’re done answering these), you’ll have an easier time portraying that on the page and you won’t get as easily stuck when you come to a part in the book in which you’re not sure how your character would react.
I fill this out for my hero and my heroine in every single book I write. It’s a lifesaver for me and allows me to fast draft novels because I’m so in tune with how my characters think and act.
Any questions? Leave me a comment or head over to Twitter and fire away. And if any of you are super hardcore, Type A writers and want my ridiculously long character questionnaire, leave me a comment with your email and I’ll send it along. For the rest of you, just google “character questionnaires” and combine/cut/edit till your heart’s content to get something that works for you.
Hi Brighton, I’d love a copy of your questionnaire! authorjessicaholt (at) gmail.com
I’d love a copy, Brighton. I’ve been searching for the perfect one!
I would love to get a copies of these. Thank you for being generous with them! firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Brighton! I would love to get your questionnaire. I am starting a new MS, and have been looking for one that is extensive. Thanks so much for being such a great help and resource for other authors! I’ve learned so much from you!
I’d love a copy of the questionnaire! my email is email@example.com
Thank you so much!
Are you still sharing your character questionnaire? I would love a copy! Thanks so much! firstname.lastname@example.org
If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m pretty type A. I’d love your questionnaire. email@example.com.
I would love a copy, please and thank you! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I have a copy please? My email is raynareveur (at) gmail.com. Thanks for sharing!
Hi, I’d love a copy of your character questionnaire if you’re still sending them out. My email is: zoe at zoeashwood dot com.
I’d love copy if its not too late! So many people have complimented it. Thanks! email@example.com
I’d also love a copy please! relynnvaughnwrites at gmail
Character questionnaire? Yes please!
Hope I’m not too late to get in on this!!!
Oh, oh, me. ME! firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you 🙂
If it’s not too late, I’d love to have this! email@example.com
I’d love a copy of your questionnaire. Many thanks for sharing!
This sounds so helpful! I would love a copy.
ME ME ME!!! Thanks Brighton!
Hey Brighton, I’d love to take a gander at your character sheet! My email is as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would love a copy of your questionnaire when you send out the next batch. Thanks! kbrookemt(at)gmail(dot)com
Is it too late to get a questionnaire? I’ve been away from my computer the past couple of days and saw this. I would love one if you could send it!!!
Hi Brighton! I’d love to see your questionnaire! Thanks for all your insight 🙂
brittanyanne1989 (at) hotmail(dot)com
I’d love to have a copy. My email address is email@example.com.
I’d love to see this questionnaire! My address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d love to see your character questionnaire! Keli.vice (at) vicecommunications.com. Thank you!
If you’re still sharing, I would love a copy. This is my big challenge for editing currently!
Sign me up too! My characters need more meat on their bones. bethanyr32 (dot) editing (at) gmail dot com.
Yes, please! Vacircac at hotmail dot com. Question: You said you answer all for hero and heroine. Are there some questions you consider vital for asking other minor characters? How about the antagonist/villain?
Hi! I only fill one out for my hero and heroine, but that’s because I write romance between only two people. If I were writing, say, an epic fantasy, I’d probably want to fill one out for all main characters and possibly the antagonist. It’s really up to you. You can do it for as many or as few as you want, and you can answer as many or as few questions for each of them.
Forgot to leave my Addy. Thanks again. email@example.com
I would love a copy. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would love a copy. despina s karras at gmail dot com. Thanks so much! =)
Deal me in, Brighton, kraftka (at) frontier (dot) com
I would love a copy of this. Please email it to VLCooke@mail.com Thank you.
Vicariouslyaware at gmail, thanks so much for sharing!
I’d love a copy! Thank you so much for sharing! lisa (at) lisaleoni (dot) com
Hi Brighton, I would love a copy of your questionnaire. My email is email@example.com. Thank you so much!! You are awesome to share!
I would also love a copy! Thanks for doing this. Really awesome. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hey Brighton, would love to have a copy of yours for future reference since they sound so..uhum…thorough. email@example.com
You know I want to take a gander at your character questionnaires…
I’d love a questionnaire if you’re still sending them out. Thanks! 🙂 lloicles(at)gmail(dot)com
Would love to have one! Thanks! 🙂 Email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much! I would love to have a copy of yours. My email is email@example.com
I would love a copy. Thanks for the tips.
Me! Me! Please and thank you. I’d love your questionnaire.
I’d love a copy of the questionnaire. Thanks in advance. firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love the questionnaire!
me me me, if it’s not too late! email@example.com
Ink in the book at gmail dot com
I would love a copy of this, as my mentor has me working on character and adding a new POV!
Ink in the book at gmail dot com
Hi Brighton! Thanks so much for sharing. Could you send me yours? My email is cseitz23 (at) gmail.com
I will take one. Thank you so much!
Would love to receive it!
dare i ask to join in the chorus asking for your questionnaire?
wrekehavoc AT gmail DOT com thanks!
Would you pretty please send me yours? Twitter kindly suggested you might! 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org
My email is email@example.com. Thanks!
*raises hand* I would LOVE to see your questionnaire. I have one that I’ve cut/pasted together but I hate it. (Thank you for sharing!)