Character Introduction, part 2

A city sidewalk at night
flickr credit: Leonrw

As promised, I’m posting the character interview with Detective Quinn Duncan, an important secondary character in my WIP, currently titled STOPPING BULLETS. Last week, I discussed the problems I encountered summing up his personality, which revealed the weaknesses in my understanding of the character.

The character interview, used by many fiction writers, is a great tool for character development, as you put your head into the character’s mind, and if you’re lucky, you’ll learn things about your character you might not have otherwise. If your characters aren’t speaking to you, you might try interviewing them in this way. May get them to open up.

Here’s my interview with Quinn Duncan:

What is your current state of mind?

Anxious, confused.

What is your favorite journey?

Upstate NY by car, up the thruway.

If you won $3 million in lottery, what would you do with the money?

I would provide for my sister Erin, and maybe get my brother’s debts cleared.

How would you react if a tearjerker is on TV and you’re alone? With others?

I’d get really tired of it, really fast, especially if it was too emotional. I would try to tolerate it if there were others around, but maybe I’d leave. Otherwise, I’ll just get cranky.

What’s in your fridge? On your bedroom floor? Your nightstand? Garbage can?

Some take-out leftovers and leftovers from the chicken Marsala I cooked last night. On my floor, probably shoes, there’s a nice carpet. On my nightstand, I have a biography of Frank Cullotta. In my garbage? Probably take-out containers, beer bottles.

It’s Saturday, noon: What are you doing?

Probably running in Central Park with my dog, Sully. Unless I have to work.

Getting ready for a night out. Where are you going? With who? What do you wear?

To the bar to hang out, mostly with other cops. I go alone. Casual t-shirt and jeans.

In spring cleaning, what’s easy to throw out? Difficult to part with? Why?

Easy would be things from college, stuff from my old girlfriend. Hard, things of my mom, my dad, family stuff.

What smell does you associate with your childhood kitchen? Why?

Food burning — my mom was always burning the food! She wasn’t too great a cook.

Who would you bring back to life for a whole day and why?

My mother. I wish she could see me as a cop. I wish we’d had more time. 

What is one strong memory that has stuck with you from childhood?

When my mom gave me her wedding ring. That’s when I really knew she was going to die.

Which living person do you most despise?

I don’t know if I despise anyone. I really resent whoever got my brother hooked on gambling.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? In others?

My temper. In others, dishonesty. I hate when people lie to me.

What do you most value in your friends?


What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Honesty’s the most important thing.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?


What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Watching someone you love die slowly.

On what occasions do you lie?

When it benefits the person or someone else, especially for work.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?


Who are your heroes in real life?

Fellow NYPD, especially 9-11 responders.

Which living person do you most admire?

My sister Erin.

How would you like to die?

Very old or at least quickly, with loved ones close.

If you died and came back as a person or thing, what would it be?

Either a scientist that cures cancer, or a superhero that cleans up the criminals of the city, like Batman.

What is your motto?

It’s not who you are, but what you do that defines you. Yeah, that’s Batman, too.


That’s all from Quinn for now! Have any questions or comments about Quinn? Ask away!

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