Every character has a story that they are the star of. It doesn’t matter if they’re just window dressing or faceless thugs, they all have a story if you think about it. I don’t always recommend going so far as to chart out each and every one, but I’m sure there are some authors that do. As a way of getting a handle on characters, I’m offering up a quick four question psychology test that can help give you a little depth and insight into what makes a character tick.
It’s very simple to do, just four questions. For each question put yourself in the character and answer how they would, or think that they would. What each question means will be at the end.
Question 1 – What is your favorite color? Think of three words or short phrases on how this color makes you feel. (Write them down on a card or piece of paper)
Question 2 – What is your favorite animal? Think of three words or phrases on how this animal makes you feel? (Write them down on a card or piece of paper)
Question 3 – You are in a white room with no doors, windows, or way to exit. Think of three words or phrases on how this situation makes you feel. (Write them down on a card or piece of paper)
Question 4 – You are standing on an open plain and can see as far as you want in any direction. Think of three words or phrases on how this makes you feel. (Write them down on a card or piece of paper.
Now before I reveal what each answer means, I’ll give you my example of a character. This is Charlie ‘Skid’ Moore from the short story ‘Skid Style’.
Question 1 – Blue – open, breezy, mellow
Question 2 – Cheetah – fast, focused, no one can outrun me!
Question 3 – white room – lonely, I hate this place!, Let me go!
Question 4 – Open plain – I can run!, so much to explore, gotta pace myself
Now you can see Charlie’s answers to each. Now let’s look at what each question is supposed to represent
Question 1 – This is supposedly how others view you. So in Charlie’s case people seem to see him as a laid-back easy going guy.
Question 2 – This is supposedly how you see yourself. Charlie is proud of his speed, and is focused on his goal.
Question 3 – This supposedly is about what your attitude is towards death. Hmm, well…, Charlie hates it. ’nuff said.
Question 4 – This is supposedly about what your attitude towards life is. Another interesting response here. Charlie loves to run, and sees life as a constant exploration, but he also understands the need to maintain a steady pace through life.
That’s the test in a nutshell, and with it we can see Skid’s motivation, a little about his personality, and how he approaches life, and reacts to death. How does your character(s) answer these questions? They may surprise you.