1. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    Would you be willing to contribute to my questionnaire?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ChaseTheSun, Mar 11, 2017.

    I have an interview-style questionnaire which I have compiled from interview templates all over the web (and using some of my own questions, too). I interview each of my characters using this template in order to get to know them better and establish them as realistic, nuanced people for the narrative.

    My question to you: would you be willing or interested to complete all or part of this questionnaire? I would then take inspiration from the assorted answers that come through and apply concepts/ideas to my characters' identities.

    Some sample questions:
    • What is your biggest secret?
    • What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
    • What do you care about?
    • Who is your hero of fiction and why?
    • When and where were you happiest?
    • What do you most value in your friends?
    • Why will the readers sympathise with you immediately?
    In total there are 58 questions and every single one is optional. I can send you all 58, or I can send a random selection of 5, 10, or however many you'd like.

    The reason for me doing this is because if I take every single main character through the interview, whilst the first one or two have maintained their own voice, attitudes, ideas and answers, I can see that as I progress through the process the individual identities will become more blurred and cookie-cutter because there are only so many original answers my brain can come up with for almost 60 questions before a blood vessel explodes!

    Super grateful to anybody who would like to jump on board!
     
  2. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    I'd certainly be willing to take a look. It sounds like a good idea. Plus it could make me think over my own work.
     
  3. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    That's great! Thanks! Do you want to opt for a shorter list of questions or will I throw the whole thing at you and you can just do what you like with it from there?
     
  4. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    Send the lot, I'll look them over.
     
  5. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    60 is too many, but I'll do 10 or so. It might stimulate some ideas for some of my characters.
     
  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    It's not how I write my characters, but I'd be willing to take a look at the whole 9 yards if it helps :)

    1. Really :cool:
    2. Loyalty: the idea that a bad person who's close to you is better than a good person who isn't
    3. Truth. "A Muslim is a terrorist even if proven innocent, a Christian is not a terrorist even if proven guilty" is a lie. "A CEO who works 200 days a year when he's not vacationing in the Caribbean deserves taxpayer subsidies for his hard work, the single mother who works 300 days a year to feed her hungry children deserves no taxpayer subsidies for her laziness" is a lie. "Leviticus 18:22 says that gay is evil" is a lie. "We live on a Flat Earth at the center of a 6000 year old universe where genes are magically prevented from mutating" is a lie. "Cats are better pets than dogs" is a lie.
    4. Sherlock Holmes. The the solitary intellectual who cares about people from a distance, I love the modern interpretations for how much they've turned him into a show-off, and I love the original because I wasn't comfortable with my asexual orientation until I read in A Sign of Four that Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes makes a conscious effort to ignore attraction because it makes his life easier. I'd wasted my early adolescence thinking that my life would be easier if I could make myself feel attraction to others, so reading the greatest genius in fictional history trying to be more like me was one of the most powerful moments of my life.
    5. When I'm running long-distance, outlining a new set of plot/character/backstory ideas I've come up with, playing around with a math problem like the 3x3 Magic Square of Squares, watching/reading a story that does something amazing that I hadn't expected, sharing my favorite ideas and seeing that other people love them as much as I do... Above all else, I love being able to go back and forth between one thing and another whenever I want :D
    6. ... As the great man once said about theorizing without data, "I cannot make bricks without clay," so I'm just going to start off with "existence" and then work my way up from there.
    7. Because they're just meeting me and don't know any better. Unless they like the people who try too hard to be sarcastic about everything.
     
  7. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Sure why not. Send it over. :)
     
  8. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

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    Okay, I will preface that people are more than welcome to disagree with me (particularly as this method is said to work for a lot of them, and who am I to argue with others' successes?)

    But my problem with interviews of characters is pretty basic.

    If you are directly asking the character themselves, most people aren't honest, upfront, or self aware enough to reveal themselves. I'm not sure why characters who are attempts to emulate real people should be or behave any different.

    If you are just filling this out as a laundry list of character quirks, traits, and beliefs, I can see why you'd be running into a problem.

    See, I know how I personally would answer these questions (if given enough consideration time on some of them that aren't common thoughts I think about) because I (think) know my core character. I can answer these questions for my characters because I know their core character.

    But if you try to invert the process, and somehow extrapolate a core character from a laundry list of beliefs & traits, particularly if you're trying to make each answer unique or original, it's more than likely to create a convoluted mess.

    Because just brainstorming answers to specific queries then trying to piece all answers together does not necessitate an internal consistency, but often is the forcing of disparate parts chosen at random without real rhyme or reason.

    So you can fill in favourite colour as "red;" the most hated thing about herself as "middle name;" their least favourite book as "The Secret Garden;" and worst Beatles' album as "Sgt. Pepper" and most vivid childhood memory as "grandmother force feeding salad down her throat until she choked & father suddenly appearing and instantly intervened," but then you'll be hard pressed to invent some internal logic of how all that strings together & makes a consistent character.

    However, if I answer those questions being aware of the core of my character, there already exists a natural consistency.

    She hates her middle name because she was named after her abusive grandmother. That memory is vivid as it was one of the many traumatic events in her childhood. She hates that book because her grandmother was Christian Scientist, and often her beliefs served as the basis of her abuse—refusing medical treatment for severe injuries, slapping people full across the face for saying "Happy Birthday" to her, etc. Her favourite colours red because it's her mother's favourite colour and she loves her mother. Her mother always wears red clothing or red accessories. Her mother's hair has a red undertone that strongly tints the ends when the dark hair is in direct sunlight. Her mom bought her ruby red shoes and dresses and toys, simply because her mother likes the colour. She subconsciously associates the colour with her mother, and adoring her mother—as the one who favours her above her siblings, and being a fellow preferred victim of aforementioned grandmother—she inevitably loves the colour. However, she dislikes that Beatles album for no other reason than she dislikes psychedelic music overall—just not her cup of tea. A lot of that is more detailed background/history stuff, but you can see how there's a lot of things that can influence fairly simple, straightforward answers.

    The significance behind the laundry list of answers is the "why" and "how" by which they got to them.

    I believe that interviews or survey questions can help flesh out a character, but I think you always need to start with the knowledge of their core being first & foremost.

    Just my two cents~

    (Also, you can send me your questionnaire if you'd like)
     
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  9. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Sure why not? Send it over, I'll try it.
     
  10. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    @NoGoodNobu Maybe so, I got the impression that the OP is looking for a range of answers from which to help further understand and diversify her characters. She's not looking for characters to answer them, but ourselves.
     
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  11. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, but I thought I'd help address what she said her particular problem is:

    I have no problem contributing to answering the questions, but I thought I'd explain why she might be having her issues

    Each of our collection of personal answers only make sense in light of who we already are (and various individual influences/experiences)

    It was pretty much just based on me
    (´;ω;`)
     
  12. PirateQueen27

    PirateQueen27 New Member

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    I think that's a great idea! Send it my way!
     
  13. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    Hi, all, thanks so much for your enthusiasm and feedback!

    I have sent the interview questions through to those who were willing: @S A Lee @Pinkymcfiddle @Simpson17866 @Cave Troll @MusingWordsmith @PirateQueen27



     
  14. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Just to be clear... are we answering as our actual selves or as one of our characters?
     
  15. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    I'm doing mine in character, but I think as yourselves would work too.
     
  16. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    Either way! You don't need to tell me whether it's from your perspective or your character's, so I won't know any better.

    My concern with people doing it in character is that might be informed by the world of the book and that won't translate across very well if your book is sci-fi, fantasy, etc. My book is just boring old Earth-bound historical fiction. :p

    At the end of the day, though, you can answer it from any perspective you like!
     
  17. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

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    I'm more than willing to participate as well. This can actually be both kinda fun and productive :D
     
  18. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I really like this idea as a source of inspiration.

    I don't do character sheets or any of that jazz, but I think all these random questions could absolutely provide some inspiration.

    Just a thought (stick with me).

    What if we were to make a thread dedicated to a roboust questionare? The OP would be the questions and if anyone wants, they can answer as themselves, character, friend, whoever.

    That way any forum goer can browse for inspiration.

    (Sorry if this has been done before.)
     
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  19. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    That's a reasonable thought. I would be happy to kick that off (I assume in the character development forum?) ... if others are inclined to think it's a good idea? My questionnaire is 68 questions long, would that be robust enough? :p
     
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  20. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Probably the Lounge if we're doing it as ourselves ;)
     
  21. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    I've never really used the Lounge before! Is this the kind of thing that would go there?
     
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  22. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

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    I'd say 'Character Development' is probably the better option, even if we do answer the questions as ourselves, it's still very much about writing and character development. While the Lounge is for general, non-writing related debates, not a good place for this purpose imo.
     
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  23. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    I think I agree with Fernando. I did mine in character, and that is an option we can take.
     
  24. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Fair point
     
  25. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    The interview is very specifically aimed at developing character, gaining insight into motivations, personality, context for choices, etc.... I think I might create the thread in the CD forum, because if as @Fernando.C said, the lounge is for non-writing related topics, then this process probably doesn't belong there.
     
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