Monday, May 14, 2012

Character Profile ?'s: Ultimate Questions

May I tell you something about writing?  

Last week I posed this question to you, my readers, and I said that I would explain how this says a lot about your characters in a future post.  Well, here's the post I promised you.  Since these profile questions are a part of the writing process, it seemed to coincide well with my MAYbe Monday post.

Image: xedos4 /

Question #3: If your character could ask any question, no matter how big, and get an answer, what would he/she/it ask?

To begin, I would like to address the he/she/it options for gender.  I write science fiction, and in some instances, the question of gender isn't so easy to answer in itself.  There is even a spectrum of possibilities in our own world, so it would be silly to limit ourselves too much if we're going to throw alien species into the mix as well.

Anyway, to get to the point, knowing the kind of question a character would ask says a lot about who they are.  Some common questions might be: What is the meaning of life?  Am I going to be successful?  Does God exist?  Will I always be with the person I love?  How will I ever get through this?

The question is revealing because it shows what that person's priorities are.  Someone who wants to know the meaning of life is clearly not concerned with material gain so much as acquiring knowledge.  Someone who asks if God exists is more concerned perhaps with whether or not there's an afterlife, or if their faith grounded in something real.  These are the more intangible concerns in life, but they have a lot of meaning for many people.

Those who ask about success in the future are clearly more oriented toward Earthly goals.  Maybe they don't have faith, or perhaps they take God and the meaning of life for granted and are therefore free to worry about other things.

Someone who asks about an immediate problem they are facing may be at a critical juncture in their life.  They know that no matter what happens, the outcome will determine the course of the rest of their lives.

We all have our own pressing questions, and they may change over time.  The way they change is also revealing of our character and the circumstances in our lives that have shaped us.  A tragic event, like the loss of a loved one, is just the kind of occurrence that may shift our entire outlook, and therefore, the question which is ultimate for us.

As you write your newest character, or as you go about your daily life, it may be useful to consider what the ultimate question is or should be.

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