"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Interviewing My Characters

Is it odd that I enjoy having conversations with imaginary people? Is it strange that I lie awake at night discovering their passions, their secrets, their demons?

Maybe. But if you're a writer reading this I'd wager you've done it too. More than once? I thought so.

I just finished reading Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins. In this book, Collins divulges seven secrets a novelist can learn from actors. Secret #1? Personalizing your character through an interview. Not just any interview, mind you, this is heavy duty, layer-tearing stuff.

When I first began writing, I'd plunge into my story, paying my characters little heed. After several chapters, I'd begin to see my characters take shape and by that time, I'd have to scratch more than half of what I'd written. Why? Because I'd discovered someone different along the way. A different character, a deeper story.

I've only recently tried the interviewing tactic. While extremely helpful, I still never got to the most sacred part of my character--the precious gold, if you will. After reading Getting Into Character and doing the recommended exercises, I not only know my characters' goals, motivations, and conflicts, I know why it pains them to think of that first perfect report card. Why, more than anything else in the world, my character is afraid of being alone. Why trusting is so difficult.

I know the soul of my character.

Thank you, Ms. Collins. I think I'm ready to write my next book.