mollyringle: (Gutenberg)
[personal profile] mollyringle
5.     Interview your characters.

Sometimes, despite your enthusiasm for a story idea, you find yourself uncertain where to take the story next. Or a character just isn’t quite coming to life for you—which often, actually, is the reason why we’re finding it hard to move the writing along. One trick I like to employ when this happens is to interview my character(s).

I usually do it silently, in writing, in a separate document from the manuscript itself, though you can try conducting the interview out loud if you like. It could be that imitating the character’s voice is what really animates them for you. I recommend recording the audio if you do it that way, so you have a record of what you came up with. Whichever way you do it, ask them the basics about their background: what was your life like growing up, where do you live now, what are your hobbies and passions? Then ask them about the problem we’ll be dealing with in your fiction: how’d you get into this situation? What do you feel about it? What would you like to do to fix things, and what’s stopping you?

These are of course all the same kinds of questions you’ve already considered in coming up with the story in the first place. But I find you’ll get more lifelike responses if you put the answers in the character’s mouth, rather than in your own omniscient-narrator voice, which is likely to be more detached. This exercise also helps you hear how the character talks, what turns of phrase they’re inclined to use, what dialects or slang they embrace, what tone they take when describing their situation. Will they be polite and hold back emotions, even though we know they’re under there? Or will they rant and complain? Or perhaps display dry humor? Getting them to talk is the way to discover their individual voice.

Tomorrow I’ll post another idea for bringing characters to life, so check back for day 6. And have a great weekend!
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