Writers use all kinds of tricks to get to know their characters better. One of my favorite ways is to answer character questionnaires. These are a series of questions – often regarding topics seemingly irrelevant to the actual story – to help you gain insights on your character. This helps them to be more three-dimensional and fully realized. It’s a great way to discover your characters’ back story and hidden agendas.
This is a questionnaire I developed with the very specific focus on parties. Parties are a big deal to kids and teens – and to humans in general. Love ’em or dread ’em, parties can be very revealing.
Personally, I think parties are difficult but rewarding to write. Parties allow you to show (not tell) a character’s place in society as well as the setting, culture, socio-economic status and general personality traits of everyone involved.
Some questions to ask about your character(s):
- What is her/her general attitude about parties?
- Does he seek or avoid parties?
- What kind of entrance would he make?
- Would he attend one alone?
- Would he crash a party?
- How important are manners?
- What is his/her ideal way to celebrate birthday?
- Small intimate gathering vs huge bash?
- How would she react to a surprise party?
- What’s on the gift wish list?
- Why would he/she throw a party?
- Revenge? Other ulterior motive?
- Hopes and goals behind the party?
- Who would be on the guest list?
- Family? Friends?
- Ideal size of party?
- Who would be a dream guest?
- Who would ruin the party?
- Reaction to party crashers? Or to no one showing up?
- What About Refreshments ?
- What could he afford to serve? What is the perfect menu?
- Any cultural foods?
- At any party what is his attitude toward food? Chow down vs nibble vs purposely ignore?
- Alcohol? Illegal substances?
- When and Where?
- What are her options? Preferences?
- Rural or urban? Home or public place?
- Decorations? Homemade, store-bought or none?
- Are balloons environmentally acceptable? Other considerations?
- Is he a control freak?
- Play list?
- In planning a party, what would be the greatest source of stress?
- What would be the most fun?
Whether you plan to write a party scene or not, answering these questions should help deepen your understanding of your character.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK