Or what are the damned questionaires for?
I am going to admit it. Put my hand up and say. I love character questionaires, I really mean to use them but somehow I never quite get around to filling them out properly.Don't get me wrong by this time in writing a book, I can probably answer most of the questions on the questionaires about my main characters. With a little thought.
This was why when reading Story, it was such a great pleasure to read the section on character v characterization. In his viewpoint, the spuerficialities don't matter a great deal, but the deep character -- what is this person really about deep down does. Yes, that was it. It suddenly all made perfect sense. There is a distinct difference between characterization (the colour of hair, eyes, clothes they wear) and the type of person they are. Simply know your heroine is a blonde with grey eyes and a penchant for long pink fingernails doesn't really tell you much about how she will react when faced with the biggest crisis of her life. You need to know more.
Now I know character questionaires (and Kate Walker's ones in the 12 point guide to Romance are brilliant) are means to an end. They are a way to discover the ins and outs of your character so you can uncover the deep character. What will your character do when faced with an emergency? Is she going to be the one holding the victim's hand? Calling the emergencies services? Organising the rescue? Or doing the rescuing? Or needing to be rescued herself? Or would she walk on by? Would your character rush into a burning building to save a kitten? How are they going to react under stress? And how are you going to force them to react? What ultimately is the sort of person you are dealing with?
But often times, when I am writing, the first thing that comes to me is the sort of person I am dealing with. It is one of the reasons I like building up from ennegrams. I like to know about the person deep down inside first. And then deciding what I need to know about the surface stuff.
But no matter how anyone does it, ultimately there comes a point when you have to know the characters so well, you could fill out on those character sheets in under five minutes flat..if you only took the time.
And next time I will, it will make filling out the art sheet so much easier.