Monday, December 20, 2010

Laying a Foundation With Character Interviews

I decided to write about character interviewing today after spending a while this weekend doing just that. I had two very murky characters in a new idea I'm developing and I wanted to feel them out. And let me tell you, it got the ball rolling. Who they are and their roles in the story are really taking shape. So where can you start with an interview if you don't know that much about a character?

I literally started with "Who are you?" and got writing without over thinking the response. Then I asked what they both knew about the situation that starts the story. After a few general questions like that ("Did you kill him?" "Do you know who did kill him?"), I had responses that led to more specific questions. It didn't take long to get the ideas going and by the end I had a much better idea of who I was dealing with. At times it felt like an interrogation, but it helped me to quit side stepping the tougher issues and face them head on.

At the end of it all, I felt I could move ahead with both people. I now know who they are (always a good starting place!) and how they play into the story. But the questions also revealed more about their personalities and personal issues. I still have a lot to learn, but the interviews gave me a foundation to build on. And sometimes that's the hardest part.

What sort of questions do you ask your characters?
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