Saturday, July 01, 2006

20 questions with my character

So one of the marvels I learned this week was to play 20 questions with your characters before you start writing about them. The list is supposed to start small and end with the biggest question you can ask, What are you afraid of? You write it in the voice of your character, using first person. Here goes. My character is a young woman who just lost her mom.

What is your name? Susan
  1. How old are you? 29
  2. What do you do? Hmm... My creator hasn't figured this one out entirely. It needs to be something fairly interesting and substantial--I'm smart--but not something super fulfilling to me. Maybe I do fundraising for a college or another type of nonprofit. The work used to really excite me, but I've become disallusioned. Another cog in the capitalist machine.
  3. What would you prefer to be doing? Drawing. Or sailing. not that I've done much of either. But they sound nice. Solitary. Interesting.
  4. Who do you love? On one level, I love my dad and sister, though we're not very close. I love my Aunt Nancy, who was very close to my mom (her sister) and is really helping me get through this. I used to love my husband, but I'm not so sure anymore. I don't have any friends who I truly love. Some I like, and others I really care about, but no one I feel connected to on that deep a level.
  5. Any regrets? Oh, tons. I'm awfully hard on myself, I know. But I regret things everyday. Small things like not leaving a minute earlier and making the subway that I saw pull away as I got to the top of the escalator. not remembering my umbrella. Never remembering my umbrella. Bigger, I regret getting married so young. I regret my part in us growing apart. I regret doing whatever it is I've done to make me feel so isolated.
  6. Dogs or cats? Both. Neither. I like both, but have neither. Though I plan to get a cat soon, no matter what happens with my marriage, but especially if I end up living alone.
  7. You sounded kind of happy when you said those last words... Yeah, though the possible breakup of any marriage is obviously awful to contemplate, I think about living alone a lot. I picture a tiny room, a cat, cereal for dinner while staring out the window onto a city street. It seems nice, romantic even. I'd play lots of classical music followed by the 80s punk I used to love but somehow stopped listening to. I'd paint the walls funky colors, maybe even have clouds on the ceiling.
  8. What's your biggest fear? Never feeling connected to people again. Forgetting to keep trying to connect. That I didn't know my mother as well as I should have, could have.
  9. What are you going to do to make sure that doesn't happen? For the former, I just don't know. Maybe reach out to my sister? Definitely to my aunt. For the latter, I know I'll go through some of mom's stuff, try to get to know different sides of her that I didn't know. What was she like at work? With her friends? With my dad when they were alone? I wish I had done this sooner, but it seems like prying when people are alive.
And here are some more, taken from a former co-worker who I recently got back in touch with, poetmom. These are the questions used for the Actor's Studio. I've only seen the show once or twice (no cable for this writer, alas), but the questions are intriguing:
  1. What is your favorite word? Secret (when it's me holding it)
  2. What is your least favorite word? Secret (when it's being held from me)
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Being alone. That's so sad.
  4. What turns you off? Crowds of people I don't know. Feeling stupid or unloved.
  5. What is your favorite curse word? Mother f*cker. It really packs a punch coming from someone as constrained as I am.
  6. What sound or noise do you love? Traffic. It's soothing, even the beeping, truck-rumblingness of it.
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? Myself crying
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Food critic, sailor
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Someone who has to give a lot of speeches.
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Thank you for coming. We're so happy you could join us.
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FatCharlatan said...

Ooooh! LOVE this. I may need to borrow your questions and do this with one of my characters.

Keep writing! :)

Bug said...

I'm glad you liked them! Please, borrow away!

DJPare said...

I love this 20 question thing! What a great way to explore your own character!! It may be a little late for the novel...but I am definitely going to do this with the short story I've been posting on my blog!

Thanks, Bug! (if that's really your name...he he he...)

January said...

"What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Food critic, sailor"

Sailor? I'd like to see that!

Bug said...

Ha! maybe I'll write a scene where she sails. :) And DJ, it's never too late to do this! Maybe it'll help with your 2nd draft!