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Proust’s Questionnaire – 35 Questions All Your Characters Should Answer

Updated: 2 days ago

Marcel Proust, who lived from 1871 to 1922, was a famous French writer, best known for
"Remembrance of Things Past," his seminal seven-part novel that delves into themes of memory, time, love, and the intricacies of human experience.

More important for this blog, Proust is also known for his "35 Questions to Get to Know a Character," a thought-provoking questionnaire that helps writers develop rich and multifaceted characters for their novels or short stories.

It's interesting to note, Proust answered his own questionnaire at the age of 14 and again at twenty years old. Ultimately, the questionnaire was turned into a parlor game and is used to this day by business and industry in team-development activities. It's even the basis for television, radio, and podcast shows when interviewing celebrities in all walks of life.

Of course, it lends itself perfectly to character development.

Using Marcel Proust's 35 point questionnaire can offer several advantages when looking to develop well-rounded and complex characters.

1. It helps to create more realistic and believable characters by asking questions about the character's appearance, personality, relationships, and goals.


2. It helps to avoid stereotypes, that is characters that are too one-dimensional or predictable, with questions about the character's background, upbringing, and experiences.
3. It helps to develop characters that are relatable to readers. By asking questions about the character's hopes, dreams, and fears, the questionnaire helps to develop characters that readers can connect with on a personal level.
4. It helps to create characters that are complex and multifaceted. By asking questions about the character's strengths and weaknesses, the questionnaire helps create characters that are not perfect, but who are still worthy of the reader's attention.

Here are few sample questions:

What is your character's family background?
What events shaped your character's childhood?
What are your character's core beliefs and values?
How does your character view the world?
How does your character relate to others?
What kind of relationships does your character foster?
What motivates your character to take action?

Click HERE to Download your FREE Proust 35 Point Questionnaire Worksheet.

When it comes to characters, “write what you know” makes total sense. The better you know your characters, the more authentic, relatable and dynamic your characters will be...and the more real your story will feel.

Download your free worksheet for faster, more efficient character development - for all your characters - and create more authentic and engaging characters that your readers will thank you for.

Happy writing.

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