Monday, June 16, 2008

Writing on Monday--Interviewing your characters

Brief post today because I'm a little delirious after a full weekend, including visiting my coochy-coo nephew (5 months old!) and then sending Teen Son off to central America last night on a missions trip with a local church. (Tossed and turned some over that one...)

But I wanted to talk to you about getting to know your characters. I know I've said that my writing related posts probably wouldn't fall into the how-to category, but this simple idea helped me so much that I wanted to pass it along to you.

One of the best classes I've taken about this subject was taught by author Susan Meissner at the ACFW conference in Dallas. Instead of making lists of her character's needs, desires, and favorite things--which can come out flat and lifeless--she interviews them. (I've always talked with my characters, but I don't often share that bit of my madness...)

Anyway, I love the spontaneous aspect of interviewing my characters. Like when I asked Tara, my newest heroine, how she would handle failure and she snapped at me: "Fail? Why would I fail?" She then furrowed her brow and said, "You need to think more positively."

Well. She didn't need to get so huffy about it, but I know more about her now, don't I? I could've asked myself how Tara would handle failure, and that would have been fine, but more of her voice came out when I turned the question around and asked it of her.

If you're a writer, try playing reporter and turning your lists around. Instead of asking yourself "What is so-and-so's favorite movie?" Ask her "What's your favorite movie, and why?" Never know what she might say...

3 comments:

Sarah said...

I am embarassed to say that I totally interview characters too! And I've been known (in times of extrreme boredom) to say out loud "I wonder what Rory and Lorelai are doing right now."
And you're right, this always causes an influx of creative energy...plus some weird looks from people;)

windycindy said...

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jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Jana said...

What a great idea! I'm totally going to go interview my characters later! Thanks, Julie!