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The Writing Life: Letter from LA

Creating Characters: Mai, Oui, Marcel Proust, I Could Use Some Help

Having some difficulty creating full, true-to-life fictional characters?  Why not let Marcel help you?

Yes, that Marcel, the most famous one of all--Marcel Proust, author of Remembrance of Things Past, the only part of which I remember is when he waxed poetic about Madeleines, the shell-shaped, mini-cakes that melt in your mouth.

Thanks to the wonderful Kate Lord Brown, fellow denizen of Alltop, I found this fabulous questionnaire that purports to be the Proust Questionnaire.  You can answer the same questions that our Marcel did at age 13, and at age 20.  Supposedly. 

In truth, I don't really care if Proust did answer these questions or not.  What struck me in looking them over is how useful they could be for character development.  The questions go way beyond Barbara Walter's famous, "If you were a tree, what tree would you be?" query to delve deeply into such things as:

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

Your favorite virtue?

What in your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?

And more, so much more, all written in that language from another time.  So put yourself in your character's state of mind and take the questionnaire.

Also, head on over to Kate's blog and read the post about the questionnaire.  Its quite clever.

And, one more thing--stay tuned to learn details of the awesome contest that is coming up.  I'll give you a hint.  It has something to do with this site.