Character Development Questions: Hard Mode - Eric

This is for the same story Lucas from last Monday will be appearing in. Eric is the second (out of three) characters I’m trying to flesh out.

1. Does your character have siblings or family members in their age group? which one are they closest with?

Eric had a younger brother, Marcus, who was three years younger than him. All their cousins were hundreds of miles away, so the families weren’t close. Marcus and Eric weren’t super close but they were friendly and sometimes did stuff together (video games or catch. Occasionally Eric chaperoned Marcus and some friends at the movies [‘cause he could drive]), but mostly they hung out with their respective friends group.

2. What is/was your character’s relationship with their mother like?

Reasonably good. Eric’s mom, Nadine, worked longish hours as a professional so he didn’t see her as much as his Dad, but he respected his Mom’s professional accomplishments, her work ethic, her outlook on life, and her chili.

3. What is/was your character’s relationship with their father like?

Close. Eric learned a lot of household skills from his Dad, Eliot, and had long discussions about literature and ethics with him.

4. Has your character ever witnessed something that fundamentally changed them? If so, does anyone else know?

Yes. And he really doesn’t want to talk about it.

(Pria has the news article summary version of what happened, but not from Eric. So her view is that she doesn’t know what happened, not really. Lucas doesn’t know.)

5. On an average day, what can be found in your character’s pockets?

Phone, wallet, pocket/multi tool (Leatherman actually). In his backpack is his laptop, today’s class textbook, notebook for the appropriate class, homework, pencils, notecards, highlighters, sunglasses, water bottle, and a deck of playing cards.

6. Does your character have recurring themes in their dreams?

Walking through the woods during the fall with his Dad and brother.

7. Does your character have recurring themes in their nightmares?

Theme, no; event, yes — his parents’ and brother’s murder. Technically, his murder too, except for the permanently dying part.

8. Has your character ever fired a gun? If so, what was their first target?

Yes, he went target shooting once. He decided it’d take more time and work than he could afford to get accurate enough to make a gun a reasonable weapon choice. So that was the last time he touched a gun too.

9. Is your character’s current socioeconomic status different than it was when they were growing up?

Yes. Eric grew up solidly upper-middle class — two working, professional parents — and now he’s a black college student on financial aid and work study with no family support.

10. Does your character feel more comfortable with more clothing, or with less clothing?

Eh. It’s cold in New England and heat is expensive. More clothing for now.

11. In what situation was your character the most afraid they’ve ever been?

The night his home was invaded and his family was murdered.

12. In what situation was your character the most calm they’ve ever been?

Calm might be the wrong emotion but he appeared incredibly calm at his family’s funeral. That was shock, numbness, and disassociation though. Actual calm would probably be last night, right before falling sleeping with Pria, or the walk through the woods with his dad when they talked through applying to colleges and career goals.

13. Is your character bothered by the sight of blood? If so, in what way?

Yes, it makes him angry and shaky (in sufficient quantities. A paper cut or scrap is fine.)

14. Does your character remember names or faces easier?

Faces.

15. Is your character preoccupied with money or material possession? Why or why not?

A little - he has to be right now for survival.

16. Which does your character idealize most: happiness or success?

Happiness.

17. What was your character’s favorite toy as a child?

A puppet stage he and his brother put shows on together.

18. Is your character more likely to admire wisdom, or ambition in others?

Wisdom. Reminds him of his Dad.

19. What is your character’s biggest relationship flaw? Has this flaw destroyed relationships for them before?

He’s been a bit too passive and too willing to put up with shit (like people staying in the closet) for the past year, year and a half. There’s some self-loathing issues going on.

20. In what ways does your character compare themselves to others? Do they do this for the sake of self-validation, or self-criticism?

Eric compares himself to what other people accomplish as a method of self-criticism. He’s carrying a lot of guilt (and anger) and thinks he should have been capable of doing more.

21. If something tragic or negative happens to your character, do they believe they may have caused or deserved it, or are they quick to blame others?

Depends on the severity of what happens, but right now, Eric definitely thinks he deserves everything bad that comes his way.

22. What does your character like in other people?

Imagination, creativity, empathy, follow through, reliability.

23. What does your character dislike in other people?

Violence, dullness, meanness, cruelty.

24. How quick is your character to trust someone else?

Give people a chance but verify.

25. How quick is your character to suspect someone else? Does this change if they are close with that person?

Depends — does he have a reason to suspect someone? If he does, he’ll worry at the problem until he figures it out.

26. How does your character behave around children?

He’ll try to engage them in a storytelling or imagination game. It usually works.

27. How does your character normally deal with confrontation?

Depends on who’s on the other side of the confrontation. He’s black and very aware of the disadvantages that puts him in New England, even (particularly) on a liberal arts college campus. If it’s with people he knows and trusts, he’ll verbally stand his ground, preferably engaging in a debate. He doesn’t trust people it’d turn to violence around, so during such a confrontation he’d work to calm things down so he can get the hell out of there. And preferably never interact with them again.

28. How quick or slow is your character to resort to physical violence in a confrontation?

They need to swing first. Except when it comes to Lucas’s frat brothers, the ones older than Lucas. Eric thinks they swung first a long time ago.

29. What did your character dream of being or doing as a child? Did that dream come true?

A professor of literature, preferably African-American or Japanese.

He’s 18. He’s working on it. Maybe.

30. What does your character find repulsive or disgusting?

Organ meat. Sewage. Anything with a bad enough smell.

31. Describe a scenario in which your character feels most comfortable.

Reading a book with a cup of hot chocolate. Maybe some music. Maybe some other folks hanging out.

What? It’s cold in New England. He may have grown up here but it’s still cold!

32. Describe a scenario in which your character feels most uncomfortable.

Angry authority figures — particularly law enforcement or security services.

33. In the face of criticism, is your character defensive, self-deprecating, or willing to improve?

Willing to improve

34. Is your character more likely to keep trying a solution/method that didn’t work the first time, or immediately move on to a different solution/method?

Socially, different solution. Physical problem trying to solve, try again to figure out why it isn’t working and then correct from there.

35. How does your character behave around people they like?

A little intense, in that he’d like to keep talking/interacting so he’s paying a lot of attention to the conversation. Unless folks are just hanging out, then he’ll relax into whatever activity is going on. If he really likes them / is attracted to them, he’ll be as physically close/affectionate as their body language indicates they’re comfortable with.

36. How does your character behave around people they dislike?

Disengaged.

37. Is your character more concerned with defending their honor, or protecting their status?

Status, as in the status of being alive.

38. Is your character more likely to remove a problem/threat, or remove themselves from a problem/threat?

He’d prefer to remove himself, but recognizes this isn’t always an option.

39. Has your character ever been bitten by an animal? How were they affected (or unaffected)?

Not a thing that’s happened to him.

40. How does your character treat people in service jobs?

You’ve got a job to do and I’ll try not to make it any harder than it has to be.

41. Does your character feel that they deserve to have what they want, whether it be material or abstract, or do they feel they must earn it first?

Eric thinks it doesn’t matter, he’ll have to earn it and keep demonstrably earning it to prevent it, whatever it is, from being taken away.

42. Has your character ever had a parental figure who was not related to them?

Yes, his freshman history teacher — she taught him a lot about text analysis.

43. Has your character ever had a dependent figure who was not related to them?

No.

44. How easy or difficult is it for your character to say “I love you?” Can they say it without meaning it?

Fairly easy if he means it, but also yes, he can say it without meaning it.

45. What does your character believe will happen to them after they die? Does this belief scare them?

He’s not sure — probably hell, assuming anything exists after death. (Have I given the impression that Eric is a bit depressed? Because he’s a lot depressed.)