Saturday, June 26, 2010

An Interview With Your Characters

I don't do it. It's a waste of time and I'll never look at the form again. Really, who cares what your hero wanted, but didn't get for his last birthday? What their favorite food is, What they dreamed last night, unless it drives the story or is, at least, relevant. Granted, it's a good way to get to know your character, but I prefer seeing those things as they unfold in the story.

I've tried to do interviews. When I first heard about the concept, I got excited. Then I saw the questions: What is your biggest strength, Achilles heel. These are questions that when asked of me, I hyperventilate. When I tried answering for my character, I had the same reaction.

Things that will always come up at one time or another in a story: What kind of car does he/she drive, quirks, idiosyncratic, friends, acquaintances, occupation. How they look, the clothes they wear, are they wealthy or poor, etc. Things that define the character for the purpose of the story.

What matters most, in my humble opinion, is what happened to get them to where they are. Why they react the way they do. Did they have mommy or daddy issues, was there unfinished business that they need to resolve.

How much of the hero is the author? I'd say we, as authors, give some of our views to our characters and we, or I should say, I, bestow on them traits I would like to have myself. The most fun characters I write are those with quirky personalities. But that's another subject.

If interviews help you get to know your characters, then that's great. Some people love to fill out forms. That's not me. I feel like I'm going to break out in hives. I wish I could be organized like that, but organization is something my characters might have, that's not me. If it were, my novel would have, not only a character interview, but an outline, a pre-synopsis, proper formating from the get-go, correct punctuation, T's crossed, i's dotted.

Suffice it to say, we/I end up deferring to type.

Have a great weekend and God bless

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  1. Hi Elizabeth,
    I don't use forms. Like you, they bug me. But I have asked my characters to tell me something about themselves from childhood. That opened doors that were a shock to me and added depth to the characters.

  2. So I'm glad to read I'm not the only one who doesn't like to do that either! Thanks!

  3. It might work for some people, but it does not work for me. I just get on and spend the time editing. :)

  4. i dont do them either- they will tell me about themselves in their own way in their own time. Usually fond of surprising me in the second draft, or when I listen to music sometimes it will hit me that its "their" song or type of music. nice of them really :)

  5. I love the form, but I don't stick to it completely. I start by filling it out for hair color, eye color, height, weight, parents, brothers, sisters, and then as I go on in the story, if I notice my character has some quirk, I write that on the form and try to figure out why. This especially helps with secondary characters, so halfway through the book, I can refer back to check on quirks they had in the first half so I can continue them. If you have a good memory, you probably don't need these. :)

    But outlining? Phffffft.

  6. Yes, that is a problem and I've had to go back and find that character, but I use Ywriter to keep track of my characters, too. Every character goes in there, but I'm not as detailed with the minor ones.

    Thanks for commenting.

  7. I tried to do this too, but it didn't work for me. I get to know my characters through writing the first draft; I just can't flesh them out beforehand. Glad I'm not alone!