Before I write a novel, I fill out the following survey questions about my main characters. The first set of questions comes from Gotham Writers’ Workshop. The second set are from this Yingle Yangle post. Since people want to know more about me, I thought I’d fill them out for myself. (Gosh, it feels so egotistical, but this is what you guys asked for.)
P.S. I feel like a teenager filling out questionnaires on Myspace.
• What is your character’s name? Does the character have a nickname?
Jackie Lea Sommers. My nicknames are Jack, Jach, Jav (pronounced yawv). A lot of people DO actually call me Jackie Lea or JLS.
• What is your character’s hair color? Eye color?
I’m dishwater blonde with blue eyes. Although I dyed my hair this winter, so right now it’s fading from red to strawberry blonde.
• What kind of distinguishing facial features does your character have?
Very pale, almost non-existent eyebrows. Which I hate.
• Does your character have a birthmark? Where is it? What about scars? How did he get them?
I am missing the tips of two fingers and six toes. Yep, for real! I was born that way, although I usually tell more dramatic lies, such as my mother chopped them off, I was in a lawn mower accident, etc.
• Who are your character’s friends and family? Who does she surround herself with? Who are the people your character is closest to? Who does he wish he were closest to?
My dad Tom, my mom Ronda, my sister Kristin, and my brother Kevin are all amazing and hilarious. Some of my very best friends are Eir, Ashley, and Des (Des was my roomie for six years!). I wish I were friends with Theo James, the actor who plays Four in the upcoming Divergent movie. I have had to grieve the fact that it is highly unlikely I will ever get the chance to make out with him.
• Where was your character born? Where has she lived since then? Where does she call home?
• Where does your character go when he’s angry?
• What is her biggest fear? Who has she told this to? Who would she never tell this to? Why?
Hell has been the biggest fear of my life, although since ERP, this has settled down considerably.
• Does she have a secret?
I do. Thanks for asking.
• What makes your character laugh out loud?
• When has your character been in love? Had a broken heart?
I’m not sure that I’ve ever been in love. I want to be! My heart has been broken countless times– I count this as writing fuel.
Then dig deeper by asking more unconventional questions:
• What is in your character’s refrigerator right now? On her bedroom floor? On her nightstand? In her garbage can?
Fridge looks pretty empty; I need to venture out into the -22 degrees windchill weather to get some groceries. Bedroom floor, nightstand … BOOKS! (There are usually books on every surface in this apartment.)
• Look at your character’s feet. Describe what you see there. Does he wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Is he in socks that are ratty and full of holes? Or is he wearing a pair of blue and gold slippers knitted by his grandmother?
Barefoot right now! I wear dress flats to work, TOMS everywhere else, winter boots when I can get away with it.
• When your character thinks of her childhood kitchen, what smell does she associate with it? Sauerkraut? Oatmeal cookies? Paint? Why is that smell so resonant for her?
Cinnamon toast. I’d LOVE those days when I’d wake up on a school day, go downstairs, and Dad would be making cinnamon-sugar toast for us!
• Your character is doing intense spring cleaning. What is easy for her to throw out? What is difficult for her to part with? Why?
I’m not much of a hoarder, except for mementos, like notes and letters that people have given to me. Even books I can more easily part with– I take a bag to Half-Price Books every so often and get a little cash for the ones that aren’t worthy to stay on my bookshelves.
• It’s Saturday at noon. What is your character doing? Give details. If he’s eating breakfast, what exactly does he eat? If she’s stretching out in her backyard to sun, what kind of blanket or towel does she lie on?
Honestly? Just waking up, lol!
• What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
I intensely remember when my mom explained to me how she knew I loved God. I’d struggled with it for three years, and she changed my life with that explanation.
• Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where is she going? What does she wear? Who will she be with?
Probably dinner or a play/musical with a friend!
NEXT SURVEY (by the way, my answers for my characters are usually a bit longer!):
- What one thing do you want more than anything else?
To love God and people well, to be a successful writer.
- What would you do if you got it?
- What did you learn from your parents’ mistakes?
I don’t drink alcohol at all. Not ever.
- What would you spend your last $10 on? Something indulgent, something practical?
A journal and a pen, and I’d start frantically writing.
- What (or whom) do you blame?
- What do you not tell anyone?
Very little. As a blogger for mental illness awareness, I’m a pretty open book!
- What do you not admit to yourself?
I’m not sure of this one! I sometimes think I’m going to be single forever, but I don’t like to spend time with that thought, so I’ll go with that.
- What is your biggest regret?
Not doing ERP sooner.
- What is the worst thing you ever did? (It’s not always the same as the biggest regret).
I can be very cruel with my words when I want to be.
- What should you care about, but don’t?
What people think about me.
- What do people say about you?
“She’s crazy!” Don’t worry– they’re not referring to OCD, just everything else I do.
- What do will the character’s last thought will be? (For obvious reasons it’s hard to phrase this as a direction question).
Jesus, take me home.
- What is your earliest memory?
I remember spilling Cheerios on the floor when I was only about two and then, thinking I’d get in trouble, I began to frantically eat the evidence. This is the only super early memory I have.
- What is your prejudice?
I have a prejudice against certain Christian ministries. That’s probably really bad, right?
- What relationship has upset you most?
There was this boy. I thought something was going to happen between us. Then he moved away and dropped out of my life (and everyone else’s) really suddenly. You can read about it in my story Lights All Around.
- What about high school or college upset you most?
I was shoulder-deep in OCD; it messed with my relationships.
- What about your job upsets you the most?
I actually love my job. A lot. Go Eagles!
- What do you best?
- What will happen after you die?
- What things do you know the least about?
Fashion, television, sports, cooking.