As I’ve said in the past, I like to give my characters a serious interrogation so I can get to know them better. Sometimes a little note page is fine in order to get a feel for how they would react in certain situations. But there are times when I need to really give them a grilling, especially if they’re the cryptic type who always likes to answer questions with more questions or the cool type who doesn’t always like to show who they really are.
My standard list of questions is a little over 100 questions, but with follow ups questions that come to mind while in the midst of the interrogation, it can easily escalate to 200. Talk about being thorough with a fictional person.
Knowing as much as I can about these characters really gives me some insight into how and why they do the things they do and helps me to (hopefully) create a more realistic personality. There are times when I answer the questions in their voice. In those times, I have to make a little side note to answer the question because the character himself refuses to tell me.
One time I asked a character how old he was. His answer was “old enough to be wise but not so wise as to be a fool.” Or when I asked him about his favorite season and he told me that “Seasons change. Each one is different than the one before. How can one pick a favorite if they are never the same?”
That character is extremely cryptic, but he’s cryptic because he’s very private. He learned early in life that not everyone can be trusted. He doesn’t always reveal to me what those lessons were, but even with his cryptic nature, I still know more than anyone else ever will and that’s really the point of the interrogation.
As much as I’d love to share his entire interrogation (his answers are some of my favorites), he’s not in anything completed yet. Instead, I’ll share information about another of my favorites who exists in the same world from the upcoming novel A Warrior’s Path: Rise of a Legend. It’s just a few of the questions that I have standard along with a few follow ups, but I really find them to be helpful and sort of wish I did this with all of my characters. I suppose I can learn from this and just do it more often going forward.
What is your name?
Hadrien Anai Odin Lefaite
Is that your full name?
It is the name I will give you and only name I claim
What color are your eyes?
How trivial, brown
What color is your hair?
What holidays do you celebrate?
Celebrations are overrated
Do you need corrective eyewear?
My vision is just fine
Do you walk with a limp or a cane?
Do you see a cane?
What is your favorite season?
Autumn. It’s when Arnolis saved me
That’s the first time you’ve been open with me. Arnolis means a lot to you. Who is he?
What does that matter, nosy girl? He is my father.
Tell me about your biological father?
What’s there to tell? He was an abusive, overbearing man incapable of love for anyone with magic.
And your mother?
(moment of silence) She was… the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known
Do you have any siblings?
Not anymore. I couldn’t control my magic and he was lost, presumed dead.
That’s very sad.
Arnolis helped me control my powers so I wouldn’t kill anyone else.
Ever cried over a girl before?
Back to trivial matters, are we? At this point in time, no.
Do you like to read?
If it’s required of me
Do you have any tattoos or piercing?
A permanent disfigurement? Not one of my choosing.
But you do have a disfigurement?
Only the one my biological father gave me when he cut into my chest
What is your favorite flower?
You have a strange line of questioning. Are you tired of hearing of my pain? Very well. Daisies.
Who would you like to see right now?
My mother and brother
How old are you?
Older than I was when Arnolis rescued me
Ever been in love?
Not at this point, but plenty of women love me
Where are you from?
Are you hiding from something/someone?
I would think that question answers itself after hearing about my biological father
What do you always carry with you?
A blue stone
What do you have handy at your bedside?
What make you unique?
I have a very powerful magic
It’s easy to see how much information I can get from my characters even with questions they refuse to answer. I already know Hadrien’s full name even though he doesn’t always tell people what it is. I also know why he refuses to claim his full name, a clue revealed in his feelings towards his biological father. Other questions are things that I ask about favorites, fears, military service, stuff like that. The questions don’t always transfer to every time period, but sometimes it’s fun to ask them anyway just to see what kind of response I get.
I can post my entire list if it’s helpful to anyone. Let me know.
And because I seem to be ending all of my blog posts this way…
Let’s all work together to make a better world. We can be each other’s cheerleader. We all rise together.
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YA Fantasy author and amateur photographer living in New Mexico. A reflection of herself, her characters are timid at first but tend to stand up and push through when times get tough.