Monday, September 21, 2020

Interview for your Characters by Patty Nicholas-Boyte

Years ago, before I even thought about writing, my late father told me about interviewing his characters. I thought that was kind of funny, but today, this is one of my most favorite things to do. As I begin a new story, and I think about who my characters are and what kind of personalities they need to have, I find an interview is one of the best ways there is to connect with the people I will be spending a lot of time with in months to come.
Bill Luellen - Patty's Dad
I find interviewing my characters is one of the best ways there is to connect with the people I will be spending a lot of time with in the months to come. The following are some of the basic interview questions I use. 
I hope you find these as helpful I do. 
  • What is your full name? 
  • Do you have a nickname (if so, who calls you this)? 
  • Where and when were you born? 
  • Who are/were your parents? (Their names, birthplaces, occupations, personalities, etc.) 
  • Do you have any siblings? If you do, what are/were they like? 
  • Where do you live now, and with whom? 
  • Describe the place (home and location) and the person/people you live with. 
  • What is your occupation? To which social class do you belong? 
  • Are you right- or left handed? 
  • What does your voice sound like? 
  • On what occasions do you lie? 
  • Do you have a motto? If so, what is it? 
  • Do you have any annoying habits, quirks, strange mannerisms, or other defining characteristics? 
  • What is your hair color and eye color? 
  • What kind of distinguishing facial features do you have? 
  • Do you have any physical traits that stand out (such as scars, birthmarks, tattoos, etc.)? 
  • If you have scars, how did you get them? 
  • If you have tattoos, why did you get them and what meaning do they have to you? 
  • Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
  • How would you describe your childhood? 
  • How much schooling have you had? 
  • Where did you learn most of your skills and other abilities? 
  • Did you have any role models? If so, describe them and why they were your role models. 
  • How did you get along with the other members of your family? 
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? 
  • What were your favorite activities? 
  • When and where were you the happiest? 
  • Who were your friends, and what were they like? 
  • When did you have your first kiss, and who with? 
  • Describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today. 
  • What do you consider the most important event of your life so far? 
  • Who has had the most influence on you? What do you consider your greatest achievement so far, why? What is your greatest regret so far, why? 
  • Has this regret formed you into the person you are today? If so, why? 
  • What is the most evil thing you have ever done so far? 
  • Do you have a criminal record? 
  • What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you so far? 
  • If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be, and why? 
  • What is your best memory so far? 
  • Why is it so powerful and lasting? 
  • What is your worst memory so far? 
  • Why is it so powerful and lasting? 
  • What is you biggest secret? Does anyone else know about this? 
  • Which person do you least want to know about this secret, why? 
Beliefs and Opinions 
  • Are you optimistic or pessimistic? 
  • What is your greatest fear? 
  • Which other person knows about this fear of yours? 
  • Who do you not want to know about this fear of yours, why? 
  • What is your greatest extravagance? 
  • What are your religious views? 
  • What are your political views? 
  • Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love? 
  • Are you able to kill? Under what circumstances do you find killing to be acceptable or unacceptable? What do you measure success in? (Money, career, husband/wife, children, happiness, etc.) 
  • How honest are you about your thoughts and feelings in the company of others? 
  • Do you have any prejudices? If so, what are they and why do you have those specific prejudices? 
  • Who or what would you die for, or otherwise go to extremes for? 
Relationships With Others 
  • In general, how do you treat others (politely, as they treat you, by keeping them at a distance, with sarcasm, etc.)? 
  • Does your treatment of them change depending on how well you know them, and if so, how? 
  • How close are you to your family? 
  • Which person do you wish you were closest to? 
  • Do you have a spouse or significant other? If so, describe this person in some rough strokes. 
  • Have you started your own family? If so, describe them in rough strokes. If not, do you want to start a family? Why or why not? 
  • Who is the most important person in your life, why? 
  • Who is the person you respect the most, why? Who are your friends? 
  • Do you have a best friend? 
  • What do you most value in your friends? Describe them with some basics like their personalities, how you met them, what you have in common, etc. 
  • Have you ever been in love? If so, describe in some rough strokes what happened (love at first sight, unrequited love, ended up marrying him/her, ended with heartbreak, etc.). 
  • Who would you turn to if you were in desperate need of help? 
  • Do you trust anyone to protect you? Who, and why? 
  • If you died or went missing, who would miss you? 
  • Who is the person you despise the most, why? 
  • Do you tend to argue with people, or avoid conflict? 
  • Do you tend to take on leadership roles in social situations? 
  • Do you like interacting with large groups of people? Why or why not? 
  • Do you care what others think of you? Why or why not? 
Likes and Dislikes 
  • What is/are your favorite hobbies and pastimes? 
  • What is your favorite color? 
  • What is your favorite food? 
  • What is your most treasured possession? 
  • Do you like to read? If so, what do you like to read? 
  • What do you believe is good entertainment (music, movies, dance, art, etc.)? 
  • Do you smoke, drink, or use drugs? If so, why? How do you get the money for it? 
  • Do you want to quit? 
  • How do you spend a typical Saturday night? 
  • What makes you laugh? 
  • What shocks or offends you? 
  • What makes you happy? 
  • What makes you sad? 
  • What makes you angry? 
  • If you usually walk away from a situation that makes you angry, where do you go to calm yourself? 
  • How do you deal with stress? 
  • How do you deal with pain (physical and emotional)? 
  • Are you spontaneous, or do you always need to have a plan? 
  • What are your pet peeves? 
  • Which living person do you most despise? Why? 
  • What is the quality you most like in a man? 
  • What is the quality you most like in a woman? 
  • Where would you like to live? Why? 
  • Describe the routine of a normal day for you. How do you feel when this routine is disrupted? 
  • What is your greatest strength? 
  • What is your greatest weakness? 
  • Which talent would you most like to have? Why? 
  • Do you like yourself?

Multi award winning writer, Patty Nicholas-Boyte lives with her Husband Brian in the mountains of North Carolina. She is a busy event planner for the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, and is a member of the Blue Ridge Writers Group. She is a mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of three. She writes Bible studies and devotionals as well as contemporary romance. 

Patty Nicholas-Boyte

She is a regular contributor to the Cove Blog.
Devotions are published in compilations by Lighthouse Bible Studies.

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