Enrich Your Fiction: If you were an animal…


Do you remember when those wacky interview questions were all the rage? Questions like: If you were an animal, what would you be? The likes of Google and Facebook asked them, and maybe they still do. I’ve never applied nor interviewed with an organization like that, so I don’t know.

Sure, the questions are flashy and really serve little purpose in an interview setting (in my opinion) other than to throw the interviewee off guard and see how they handle uncomfortable situations and thinking on their feet. I suppose it also can showcase a candidate’s creativity. But still, I stick by my opinion that these sorts of questions have no place in the interview. They don’t really help the interviewee shine and they have no relevancy to the actual job they are applying for.

But, maybe they can help enhance a character…So, in today’s post that is part of my Enrich Your Fiction series, let’s delve a little deeper and talk about how questions like these can help illuminate things about your characters that you may not have come to otherwise.

If you were an animal

When I think about this question for myself, I know automatically what animal I would pick. The otter. How do I relate to an otter? Well, I like to think I am resourceful and otters are one of the few animals capable of utilizing tools. Also, otters are very social creatures. I am also a very social creature, an extrovert who craves time with people and conversation and parties and gets so energized at social gathers that I have trouble falling asleep that night when I get home.

Also, I simply love otters. My love of otters comes from the same place that my love for most things: a book. As a child, I devoured the Redwall books. I read them so much that eventually the paperbacks I owned started to come apart. Then, I started buying them in hardcover. Most people love Matthias or Martin the Warrior and the badgers. I loved them too. But, my absolute favorites were the otters. They were happy, they talked like pirates and they were brave warriors to boot. I even started writing my own fanfic when I was in middle school. Anyway, I’m getting off topic here šŸ™‚

For character development, you may never actually put in your story what your character’s favorite animal (or what they would be if they were an animal) is because it may not be pertinent to the narrative directly. But, it can help you with things below the surface. Maybe your character identifies with a hawk. Perhaps that influences how they fight, how they walk, how they look (people can look hawkish, right?). Maybe, like the story I tell above, your character fell in love with an animal because of an experience as a child, maybe through a book, an encounter in the wild, or something else. The possibilities are endless and they can only help you add depth to your character.

Of course, thinking about your character’s favorite animal isn’t the only thing you can take from wacky interviews and use it to help you add depth to your characters. There are tons of questions out there that could be useful to you. I did a brief search for other wacky interview questions and picked out a few that I thought could be helpful in your character development process:

  1. If you were a kitchen appliance, what would you be and why?
  2. What was the last costume you wore?
  3. What would you do in the event of the zombie apocalypse?
  4. What is your least favorite thing about humanity? (Great for human and non-human characters)
  5. If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children (or nieces/nephews)?
  6. If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would they be and why?
  7. What was the last gift you gave someone?
  8. Do you prefer cats or dogs? Why?
  9. What would I find in your fridge right now?
  10. What makes you angry?

Creating believable characters is something that we all aspire to. To get there, we have to figure out new ways to bring out unexpected elements that reveal something about who they are as human (or non-human) beings. When we set out to create truly multifaceted characters, there are tons of tricks of the trade that can help you along the way. This is just one tactic that can help you think about your characters from a different perspective.

So, now I really want to know, if you were an animal, what would you be and why? Please share in the comments!

Photo by Robert Anthony Carbone from Pexels

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