Thursday, August 6, 2009

Building Character

It has suddenly occurred to me that the best way to get into my character's head, is to interview my character. Sometimes that is fun to do with another character, but it is most beneficial to me as the writer to interview him or her as though I am a psyche doctor, and they are my patient.

It also occurred to me that this insane approach to building character might help you out there as well. So, without further ado, here is a sample interview.

ME: Hi, what's your name?
Them: Oh, you know, Sally Jones. Or maybe I'm Jenny Smith today.
ME: Don't you know who you are?
Them: Sure. I'm sure of who I am, are you?
ME: Well, hey now, I'm asking the questions here. How about you give me a few adjectives to describe you to people?
Them: Okay. So ... like... I'm impatient. I hate waiting on stuff. Like that?
ME: Yeah. That's good. What else?
Them: Oh um... fun. I think I'm pretty fun to be around.
ME: Tell me about your perceptions about your life. Are you happy with things?
Them: Sometimes. I mean, things really suck right now.
ME: Why is that?
Them: I kind of got into some trouble, only I wasn't even aware I was doing it. I was trying to be nice and help out my elderly aunt. Then the whole thing went south and now I'm stuck here with you.
ME: What about you is a strength that will help you out in this awful, terrible, ugly situation?
Them: Um. A strength? Oh. I guess, tenacity. Yeah, I can hang in there. I will beat this thing. No matter what, I have to help out my aunt. She's got cancer and she's counting on me big time.
ME: Is there some reason you could possibly fail?
Them: Yeah. I'm falling for this guy who stole something from me. Something that will save my aunt from losing her house. She's got cancer you know, and the bills. Oh dear, the bills.

Anyway.... so .... you see where this could go? I hope it helps you! I am off here to finish this conversation with this character. Sounds like a fantastic tale is about to unfold!


Sheila Deeth said...

Fascinating indeed. I interview characters while walking the neighbor's dog, and hope other neighbor's don't try to work out who I'm talking to.

Marta Stephens said...

Do you remember when you interviewed my character of Sam Haper back in August 1, 2007 (wow! nearly two years to the day.)? I couldn't believe the things that came out of that interview; his tone, his thought, feelings. I loved it and highly recommend interviewing your character when you just can't understand who he/she is really all about.

You'll find it here:

Kim Smith said...

Hi Sheila! It's fun isn't it?

Yes, Marta I do remember! that was a realllly fun one!

s.w. vaughn said...

This is a fun interview, Kim! I have yet to try interviewing a character, but one of these days I'm going to give it a whirl. :-)