Character Development Questions: Hard Mode — Pria

The last of my three main characters for the unnamed novel project


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

Yes. Brandon (older brother by 2 years), Eveline [Eve, Evie] (younger sister by 2 years), and Jordan (younger brother by 4 years). She’s closest to Evie.

 

And in case you’re wondering, Pria had her name legally changed. It used to be Dinah. She hated that name. Evie and Jordan are also planning to legally change their names when they turn 18, although neither are sure what to, yet.

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

Bad. Really bad. Pria’s mom, Charity, was emotionally abusive to Pria, in the name of ‘saving her soul’ and getting her to ‘act like a lady’. Basically, Pria could never be feminine enough for her Mom.

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

Bad. Not as bad as as with her Mom, but bad. As a teen, Pria kept expecting physical abuse from Joseph, her Dad, in the infrequent circumstances she actually got caught being ‘sinful’, but it never happened. She doesn’t realize it, but it didn’t happen because Joseph could tell she’d swing back.

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

No, but only because she’d already lost all trust in her parents and older brother. Honestly, she thinks it should have changed her, but seeing Brandon attack Evie really only confirmed what she suspected about Brandon and about herself (no, she didn’t freeze, yes, she did attack him). So, obviously Evie knows. Evie told Jordan later, and Pria told Gwen and Roland, her grandmother and grandfather, the outlines of what happened.

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

Her phone. In her backpack is her laptop, books for class, binder to take notes in, pencils, a couple pens, highlighters, index cards, lunch (probably), and a water bottle. She has a bunch of sympathetic tokens on the insides of a bunch of bracelets she wears.

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

No.

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

Still being at her parents’ ranch. Getting to the barn too late.

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

No.

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

Yes. Her parents were barely on the middle-class side of lower-middle class. Now that she (and her younger siblings) are under her grandparents’ care, they’re really wealthy.

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

Less. But she’s living in a group house in New England. She dresses for the temperature and her roommates’ comfort level.

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

In the barn when Brandon was attacking Evie and later while she was trying to get herself, Evie, and Jordan across the entire freaking country to Boston (and her grandparents) without getting caught by their parents or the police. 

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

When she was breaking up with her high school sweetheart, Betsy.

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

No.

14. Does your character remember names or faces easier?

Names but only as they attach to faces.

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

No, not anymore. She was preoccupied with money as it could enable her to get the hell out of her parents’ home, but now that she has access to more than she knows was to do with, she sees it as a useful tool that she’d like to learn how to utilize to the full extent it can protect her and her family. So maybe a little preoccupied with money.

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

Happiness.

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

The copy of The Hobbit she managed to successfully keep hidden for four years.

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

Wisdom.

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

She’s so careful about keeping and enforcing her boundaries that she’s not as careful of other people’s needs and feelings as she should be, to be a good partner. It’s stopped relationships from ever getting started before, which if she’d noticed would have been alright with her — she wasn’t interested in a relationship since she broke up with her girlfriend in high school, although she’s ready to date again, now that she’s in college.

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

She compares her knowledge of pop culture, general knowledge, and life skills to others, in order to find what was deliberately kept from her growing up. 

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?

Somewhere in between those two extremes.

22. What does your character like in other people?

Integrity, willingness to learn, willingness to teach, respecting other people’s different life choices 

23. What does your character dislike in other people?

Zealotry, bigotry, sexism

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

Very slow

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

Reasonably quick but that completely flips if they’re close — Pria doesn’t get close to people she hasn’t decided if she can trust them.

26. How does your character behave around children?

A little standoffish. She doesn’t really know how to relate and hasn’t learned yet how to draw them out to find something to interact over. She’s protective of her younger sister and brother though — them she knows how to interact with.

27. How does your character normally deal with confrontation?

Blank stone-face. She’s learned to control her impulse to lash out in anger from having so much practice dealing with her parents. 

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

But if it’s a physical confrontation, she entirely willing to stand in their faces, not back down, and deck them if they swing first. So, quick to intimidation and quick to respond with physical violence if offered — she don’t start none, but damn if she doesn’t want to end it.

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

Run away. And yes, she did that.

30. What does your character find repulsive or disgusting?

Religious zealotry/fanaticism/fundamentalism.

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

Honestly, that moment right after sex at her place when her partner has dropped off to sleep and she’ll fall asleep shortly.

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

Dealing with her parents or her older brother again.

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

Defensive — she perceives it as an attack on her self and her boundaries. Yeah, she knows that’s not healthy and she’s working on it.

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?

Different solution.

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

Like as in interesting in sleeping with them? Vivacious. Like as in like being around them? Quiet — she’s comfortable enough not to be ‘on’.

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

Dismissive. Unless she’s trying not to let on she dislikes them.

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

Defending their honor.

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

Remove the problem.

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

Yeah sure — she grew up on a ranch. Animals occasionally lip or take a bite out of you. She learned how to handle them better.

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

Politely.

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?

Earn it.

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

Nope.

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

Nu-uh.

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

Very easy to say if she doesn’t mean it — she’s had so much practice lying in that way to her parents.

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

No damn clue. She figures she’ll find out when she gets there. And yes, that’s a scary thought, but it’s the only one she’s got to work with.

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.)

Character Development Questions: Hard Mode - Lucas

This is for a story I've had kicking around in my head for a while. I'm trying to flesh out the two (out of three) main characters I feel I don't know as well. In an attempt to push the project forward. So, I introduce to you Lucas, at the beginning of my as yet untitled story.


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

Lucas has four younger siblings, as two sisters younger than him by two (Maria) and four (Julia) years, than a younger brother (six years younger, Martín), and finally another sister (eight years younger, Ema). He’s was close with Maria until they hit seven and five, when Maria started getting closer to Julia. Now, in the family, Lucas is closest with his eldest cousin, Alonso, but it’s not very close.

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

A bit distant. Lucas feels ignored by her and actively discouraged from having a good relationship with her by his father.

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

Resentful. Lucas isn’t entirely aware of his resentment yet, but he’s been passively resisting his father for years. As much as he feels he can without making his or his siblings’ life awful. 

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

Yes, his full initiation into his fraternity beginning of sophomore year. It’s... not a good memory. His frat brothers, obviously, knew and now Eric and Pria know something happened, even if he hasn’t shared the details.

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

His pockets have his cellphone, wallet, his student id (usually floating loose from the wallet), a couple coins, and a pencil nub. His backpack is more interesting: laptop, notepad, notebook, pens, pencils, highlighters, crumpled flashcards, a couple crumbled bills (anywhere from 1$ to 10$ bills), wall plugs and charging cables for his phone, an external battery, rolled ace bandage, jock strap, and an ankle splint.

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

Not particularly. The closest would be once or twice a month dreaming about running of some variety. Sometimes on two legs, sometimes as a wolf on four.

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

Yes. The smell and taste of blood. Running.

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

No.

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

No, Lucas grew up lower-middle to middle-middle class and he’s at college as a semi-broke student. This isn’t all that different on a day-to-day basis than high school.

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

More clothing. Not layers and layers, but fully dressed.

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

Two instances: 1) his full initiation to his fraternity and 2) last night when Eric came by the frat house.

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

Arriving at college. Once everything was unloaded into his dorm room and his Papa said goodbye, Lucas just went... peaceful for a few minutes. And then he went to dinner with his new roommate and tried to make friends.

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

Yes. It’s an unpleasant reminder of... last night.

14. Does your character remember names or faces easier?

Both/neither? Lucas has a good memory for faces but he always has a name associated with the face.

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

No, because he hasn’t had to worry about it much. Also, being preoccupied with money or material possessions is closely connected with being preoccupied with status (to him), and Lucas is avoiding being like his Papa that way (not a conscious choice. yet.) If you asked him, he’d say he wants to maintain the same lifestyle he grew up with, but he doesn’t have a concrete career or goal in mind to do that.

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

Happiness.

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

His stuffed octopus. Until Papa substituted in a football. He didn’t really have a favorite after that. 

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

Wisdom. He feels he’s lacking that.

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

Lucas is insecure. He’s grown up with a particular image of how he’s supposed to be around girls / women (macho) and that doesn’t come naturally to him. So, when he tries to fake it, he worries everyone can tell he’s faking. When he doesn’t fake it, he worries that people think he’s not a man. He thinks he’s supposed to want to get with every woman and perform with single one of them who’s willing. 

It’s sabotaged things from ever getting started for him.

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

Lucas compares himself to how other guys (particularly guys in his frat) act around women and it’s totally for self-criticism. He’s half disgusted (okay, mostly disgusted), half ‘damn it, how do I act that confident / macho.’

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?

Oh, definitely with the self-blame and thinking he deserved it.

22. What does your character like in other people?

Confidence. Being kind. Reaching out and helping others. The ability to have deep discussions on various topics and the ability to sit back and listen.

23. What does your character dislike in other people?

Arrogance. Anger. Being a bully. Trying to win every conversation.

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

Slow. He’s not sure he’s every trusted someone completely, and now he has more to loose.

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

Also slow. But it doesn’t really change if he’s close with that person. Actually, it might be faster — since he’s close, he has more opportunities to see behaviors that would make him suspicious.

26. How does your character behave around children?

Responsible. Where’s their parent(s) and do I need to watch out for this child until they get here. Keep in mind, Lucas is only 19ish, so ‘children’ is pretty much anyone younger than seven.

27. How does your character normally deal with confrontation?

Avoidance. Go quiet, withdraw, say what you need to or nod to get the other person to drop it.

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

Very slow. He avoids, avoids, avoids, until physical violence is already on the table / happening. In which case he’ll try to back-up the person he thinks is in the right and run away if the violence is only directed at him.

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

Lucas isn’t sure anymore what he wanted to do/be as a child. Papa has had him working towards college and a financial Wall Street job since he started school.

30. What does your character find repulsive or disgusting?

The smell of rotting flowers. Dead fish.

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

Snuggling with Pria or Eric on the couch, watching a movie, when they’re the only one’s in the house.

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

Scenario 1: Verbal fights or confrontations. 
Scenario 2: Being naked and about to start having sex. He’d like to get over that.

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

Well, criticism feels like a confrontation, so Lucas is avoidant and self-deprecating in order to placate the person giving the criticism.

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?

Depends on the problem to be solved, but if he’s the one to notice it didn’t work and if it is possible, he’d like to immediately try the solution/method a second time to understand what he did wrong.

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

Relaxed and a bit tactile. He’d like to have some part of body in contact with someone, not necessarily skin-to-skin, although if he’s really comfortable skin-to-skin is really nice. Otherwise, he’d like the pressure to reassure his hindbrain they’re there. He’s not consciously aware of any of this. And is a bit touch starved.

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

Withdrawn. If at all possible, he’d like to leave or ignore them.

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

Honor, if you define honor as integrity and acting ethically.

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

Remove himself.

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

Not something he’s experienced.

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

As kind and briskly as possible. They don’t get paid enough to deal with what they deal with (he knows, he’s worked service jobs in high school) and if he can get the heck out of their way, their day with not suck just a little bit more.

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?

That would involve knowing what he wants. But if you ask him about it abstractly, he’d tell you he has to earn it.

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

God no, Papa would have put up with that.

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

No, not yet.

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

Difficult. He hasn’t been in a situation where he’s really needed to say it without — he’s not entirely comfortable saying it to his parents, but they’re not the demonstrative kind. He’s comfortable saying it to his siblings. And he hasn’t been in a relationship long enough that it’s come up.

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

Lucas is culturally Catholic and is now pretty sure he’s going to Hell when he dies. And yes, this scares the crap out of him, but he’s really not sure what else would have been the right thing to do.