Need a little help developing your main character for that novel you’re writing? Why not asking him or her some questions! Jared Reck tells us how he build his protagonists by using a questionnaire…
I start all of my stories by first developing a main character with a simple character questionnaire I use with my students. It’s about twenty questions, and the trick is to pretend you’re talking to your character and writing down everything he or she says. I’ll usually write twenty to thirty pages of responses before I even start writing the novel (though much of it will show up in the finished work).
I also prefer to write longhand, in cheap composition books with cheap ballpoint pens. I need to be able to make a mess of the page, with arrows and asterisks and bulleted lists and notes to myself—I’ve got Post-it notes all over the place. Then, after I’ve written a few scenes or chapters, I go back and type it out, revising as I go. Then back into the composition books again. It’s messy and it’s slow, but that’s how my brain works. And by the time I type to the very end, it’s a pretty clean finished product.
I wish I were cool enough to say I had a specific, preferred model of pen that I write with exclusively. But I’m not that cool. Mostly, I like blue.