Proust's Questionnaire - 35 Questions Every Character Should Answer

Proust’s Questionnaire – 35 Questions Every Character Should Answer

In this post, we’ve shared Marcel Proust’s questionnaire for you to use when you create characters.

The questionnaire is one of the best-known interviews used in the media today. It is thoughtful, fun, and concise, and it does a good job of showing the personality of the interviewee.

Marcel Proust (born 10 July 1871, died 18 November 1922) was a French novelist who is best known for writing Remembrance of Things Past, a novel published in seven parts.

Proust’s Questionnaire

At the end of the nineteenth century, when he was 13-years-old, he answered a questionnaire in an English-language confession album belonging to his friend Antoinette Felix-Faure, entitled ‘An Album to Record Thoughts, Feelings, etc.’.  In those days, answering lists like this was a popular past time. They revealed the tastes and aspirations of the taker.

The original manuscript of Proust’s answers was found in 1924. It was auctioned on 27 May 2003 for €102,000.

Proust's Questionnaire

Vanity Fair runs a Proust Questionnaire in every issue of the magazine.

Proust’s questionnaire is an excellent way for you to interview the most important characters in your novel or short story. They may tell you something you don’t already know.

35 Questions Made Famous by Marcel Proust

  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 favourite 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?

Source for image

More Resources: 9 Useful Character Questionnaires For Writers

[Use our Character Creation Kit to create great characters for your stories.]

Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post, read:

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  2. Word Counts – How long should your novel be?
  3. The Three Most Effective Types of Inner Conflict
  4. Writing Advice From The World’s Most Famous Authors

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course.

Posted on: 3rd April 2015

5 thoughts on “Proust’s Questionnaire – 35 Questions Every Character Should Answer”

  1. 1st Published 2001

    This sounds like a first date question list. Hahaha. I am not sure I know of anyone who can answer all of these questions but they certainly give one pause, don’t they?

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