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7 Essential Questions to Ask you Main Character


We don't live in a question and answer world. We live. We react to problems, take action in certain events. The way we live, act, react, speak, shut up, and even help people are huge part of who we are. In order to truly get to know our characters, we need to go beyond the fill-in-the-blank worksheets. As writers, we need to completely uncover what makes are characters who they are, and if there is no depth, then it's our job to create it.

      


Is your main character "normal" enough to relate to your reader? Data from Star Trek The Next Generation was unlike all the characters in the show because he was an android, but he faced normal struggles that helped viewers relate to him. Although not human, he was enough life one to be a likable character.

Does your main character have a unique element, a curiosity factor to keep your reader interested? Data wanted to know what it was like to be human. This makes viewers curious. As Data learns and explores things that make us human, how is an android going to view those things?

Does your main character have flaws that make them relatable and not just "human?" Data wasn’t even human, but he struggled with fitting in, dealing with bullies, deciding his future. Data was rude, inconsiderate, thoughtless at times, and he wasn’t even human at all. But these struggles and flaws made him relatable.

Where--or with whom--does your main character feel the most at home? Data felt comfortable around a small group of the crew that understood his desires and struggles as an android. His actions around these people are different from the actions he takes around people that don’t understand as well.

Where--or with whom--does your main character feel the loneliest? When Data was around people who failed to understand his desire to become like human, he struggled to communicate and confide personal information.

How does your main character handle large scale problems? When the Enterprise was at stake, Data handled the problem with logical, mathematical analysis. Yes, this is because he was an android, but he was also always willing to sacrifice himself. This was characteristic of Data and the viewers knew that it was part of what defined him.

How does you main character handle small personal problems? When they find the problem? When someone else points out the problem? Data constantly looked at himself for ways to improve when things went wrong. He continually looked to himself as a source of the problem and the solution. Again, an attitude that characterized Data.

 

Every character is going to be drastically different, but these questions should help you dig deeper in what defines them. Your answers to these questions will also help you write when you get to certain points of conflict or plot twists. You’ll have a solid idea of what actions your character is going to take.

 

~ Alyson  

 



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