Dec 29 2007
This questionnaire will help you design a superhero or supervillain for a novel or comic book.
1. What kind of person was your hero before he got superpowers? (A friendly but awkward nerd? Guilty of CIAing while black? A disgruntled accountant?)
2. What sort of job/educational background does he have? (Do these affect his superhero career?)
3. Why should prospective readers care about your hero? What is it about his background that will appeal to them?
4. What’s the character’s language like? Will he sound any different from the other characters in the story?
5. How old is he?
6. What kind of goals did he have before becoming a superhero? What kinds of problems?
7. What sort of problems did his world have before he became a superhero? Did he notice/care about these problems? (Or did he have a happy and carefree childhood until he saw his parents get murdered?)
8. What does your character think about his world? (Mostly happy? Looking to escape? Looking for something more?)
9. Is there anything in your character’s past that he regrets or will regret, like nearly joining a gang or failing to save his uncle?
10. Does your character’s background make him a better superhero? For example, Superman’s side-job as an investigative journalist frequently gives him leads to look into. Many heroes have scientific or technological skills, etc.
1. Was he born super?
2. Did he choose to be a superhero? Why? (Which personal feelings/experiences influenced that choice? Losing a loved one to criminals? Being a disillusioned cop? A desire to escape from a dull routine?)
3. If he did not choose, what caused/forced him to become super? (A physical transformation? Conscription? Forced servitude?) Is he attempting to become normal? How and why?
4. Was he chosen to become a superhero? Who chose him? Why? (Maybe she won Amazonian trials or aced secret tests embedded in a standardized exam).
5. Assuming that your character was not born super, what caused him to become super?
1. Does your character have a secret identity? If so, why? What would the consequences be if his enemies, friends and/or the public found out who he is?
2. How do his powers make it harder (or easier) to keep his secret-identity secret?
3. Has his work as a superhero noticeably changed his body? (For example, Peter Parker gets a lot tougher and picks up unusual bruises and scars). How would your hero conceal these changes from his friends? If a friend noticed anyway, how might he try to explain them away?
4. Has he told anyone who he is? Why? Does anyone else know?
5. Does the police care who he is? The media? Anybody else?
6. What does your character do to keep his identity safe? (Anything besides wearing a mask?)
7. Is anyone close to discovering the truth?
8. Has anyone publically accused him of being the hero? Has he taken any steps to “disprove” the claims or discredit the accusers?
1. Here’s an obvious question: what superpowers does your superhero have? Less obviously, will your readers be able to describe your character’s powers in 1-2 easy sentences? If not, it’ll probably harder for them to introduce the story/characters to their friends.
2. Do his superpowers affect his civilian life in any way?
3. Does your superhero have a special mode of transport? (Not that there’s anything wrong with the subway, but you do get weird stares).
4. Readers love being surprised. How will your superhero use his powers to surprise us? Will he be able to resolve his problems in new and fresh ways?