Do you remember playing that car game, brilliant for long journeys, where one of you assumes a character and the others have to guess who it is by asking twenty questions? When we were little we whiled away hours playing it on the autobahns and autoroutes of Europe, but it has other applications too and can be particularly useful for a fiction writer in search of a protagonist.

When you are in the process of fleshing out your hero or heroine, you might consider submitting them to the same sort of interrogation (and it’s also the kind of thing you can do on long car journeys!)

  1. When were you born?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Do you have brothers and sisters?
  4. What is your happiest memory?
  5. What makes you saddest?
  6. Where do you live?
  7. What do you do for a living?
  8. Have you had other relationships?
  9. Do you consider yourself an extrovert?
  10. Do you have secrets?
  11. How good is your self-esteem?
  12. What is your attitude to your appearance?
  13. What is your proudest possession?
  14. What are you most ashamed of?
  15. What are your politics?
  16. What makes you angry?
  17. What is your best quality?
  18. What do you value most in other people?
  19. What do you yearn for?
  20. What keeps you awake at night?

There are dozens of other interesting questions you could pose and while some are more simplistic than others, all of them will get you thinking about your character and may even send you off in an unanticipated direction which, in my experience, is where the interesting stuff is to be found…