When do you lie? What’s your greatest fear? Writing tips from Proust

In reviewing the manuscript I’m working on now I realised that my two main characters are a bit same same and are a tad one dimensional. I need to give them (and some of the events in the story) a serious boost.

I’ve come to the realisation that in order to make things seem real in fiction they really need to be exaggerated. If everything was just like in real life why would you bother reading it. I’m not talking about ludicrous coincidence and outrageous characters, just taking everything up a notch or three.

Now while I haven’t analysed my characters to any depth I think I could probably spend a valuable hour or so answering some of the questions posed to Marcel Proust. If I don’t think I can learn a thing or two from Proust, I have blindly marched far too past the line of humility.

The Write Practice had this post today listing 35 questions Proust was asked to answer personally when he was 14, but it’s a valuable list to answer for characters.

What is your idea of perfect

 

I don’t think I need to answer all of them, but it can only help to cement the character motivations and help build a richer image, right? Tell me I’m not just procrastinating, again.

To be honest I’m not a fan of analysing characters and ‘navel gazing’ so for me this will actually be a tough exercise, one I’ll have to be strict with myself about, but I’m pretty sure worth the effort. I’m sure as heck not getting into it on a personal level – bleccchhh! 🙂

Here is Proust’s Questionnaire (thanks to the Write Practice):

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  2. What is your greatest fear?
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  5. Which living person do you most admire?
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
  7. What is your current state of mind?
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
  11. Which living person do you most despise?
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
  16. When and where were you happiest?
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
  21. Where would you most like to live?
  22. What is your most treasured possession?
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
  24. What is your favourite occupation?
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?
  26. What do you most value in your friends?
  27. Who are your favourite writers?
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?
  31. What are your favourite names?
  32. What is it that you most dislike?
  33. What is your greatest regret?
  34. How would you like to die?
  35. What is your motto?

 

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4 responses to “When do you lie? What’s your greatest fear? Writing tips from Proust

  1. Ooh… I’ll bookmark this mentally for later…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hope you don’t have to wait a couple of weeks to write at all!

    Like

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