Posts Tagged ‘Soliciting characters’

Are you interviewing your characters?

If you are having a problem with filling out your characters or weeding them out, here is something that might help you. Interviewing hopefuls to play these rolls in your novel or story is a great way to smooth out your wrinkles and get to know them.

So you have a fabulous idea for a story or novel, but you don’t quite have a full grown cast of characters. Or maybe you have one that is not working out right. Fire him/her and put an ad in the help wanted section of your local news paper. List all the qualities you want your character to have, sit back and wait for a line to form at your front door or you back door if your character is a little on the shady side, or ruthless and you don’t want to frighten your neighbors. In other words make this as real as you can.

Greet each applicant with a big smile and invite them in. Lead them to your torture chamber or where ever it is you will conduct your interview. Do this in a serious and realistic way, just don’t send your add to the news paper. Even though this is just a pretend thing, daydream this out. Close your eyes and picture yourself walking to the door, opening it and inviting the applicant in.

I’ve done this in the past and became caught up to such an extent that I had to shake myself out of my daydream. I even felt excitement when the character exceeded my expectations.

I did my interviews on the computer, but to make it more realistic sit at your desk with an empty chair in front of you or put your dog or cat in the chair. Have a list of questions ready to fill in the answers your prospective character gives you, or you can do it free style, whatever makes you comfortable. The answers may surprise you and suggest more questions. I had a lot of fun with this. If you are someone, like me, who has little company, I’m sure you will enjoy this exercise.

Take it as far as you like. This is an exercise in getting to know your characters, so go all out. There’s no need to put all of this in your story or novel, and if your prospect gets a little rambunctious, ask him/her to tone it down a little.

If you know your character, as well as you know your best friend, if you have a best friend, when the time comes to write your story or scene, you will know and be able to describe how your character handles any situation or problem he/she encounters.

Do this interview as though you were talking to someone you just met, someone intriguing or interesting whether or not you like them. This is true, because if you are going to write a story about them, you are interested, or you should be. You may not like them or love them but they are important to your story, right? If not, you have no need to interview them. Kick their butts out the door and get to the next one. This is serious business here and unimportant characters should be rubbed out.

The trick is to put yourself in the character’s shoes, or more exactly, in their head. And if you know your subject, you will have no problem getting into their head and knowing how they will react and what they will say. Maybe you have heard about characters taking over the story. That’s right, they do, if you know them well enough.

If you have a problem with acting the rolls of both interviewer and interviewee, write the questions on paper or on the screen until you become accustom to it. You need to feel comfortable doing this. It’s part of being a writer. You need to be in each character’s head no matter what point of view you’re using.

Knowing your characters fully, even the minor ones, makes you a better writer, or at least it should. After doing a few or many interviews like this, you should be comfortable with working with characters and you can do away with interviews.

Let me know if you have any questions.


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