Thursday, June 18, 2009

Character Interview

Sometimes a daunting task when writing is getting to know your characters. Making them come alive, instead of just being a cardboard figure. I constantly study people when I'm out. I watch their facial expressions, body language, and speech patterns. Part of this comes from my psychology background and part of this comes from the fact that I am just naturally curious about what makes a person tick.

When I sit down to write a story I need to really know my characters beforehand. If I don't, I risk giving my readers a cardboard cut-out of my character or worse an unbelievable character. In a class I took titled "Writing The Great American Novel", which was taught by Dee Burks, I was given this form for interviewing my characters:

Character Role:
Birth Place/Year:

Hair color:
Eye color:
Style of Dress:

Characters Background:
Internal conflicts:
External conflicts:
Biggest Fear:
Worst experience:
Mis. Notes:

Doing this with each main character really helps me to get to know my character before I sit down to write.

How do you get to know your characters? Any tips on building that 3-D character as opposed to the cardboard cut-out?


Terri Tiffany said...

I base them on someone I know and then take it from there:)

Jill Kemerer said...

I'm reading Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress. The first part of the book really made me understand how to show character's feelings through details.

I also fill out extremely long character sheets for my main characters. Fun!

Pat's Place said...

Interesting hints for writing that you are giving. Might give them a try when I get home. Thanks.

Nancy said...

That is a great list for characters. Characters are my favorite part of the story. I do some of the list you show. When I write fiction, my characters surprise me by doing things I didn't expect. Well, it comes out in the writing. I think and say, "Oh, yes, He would do that." It's all so cool.

Kara said...

Terri I love watching people and thinking they would make a great character.
Jill, thanks for the book recommendation. I really need to get some of these books!
Thanks Pat:)
Nancy, I know what you mean. My characters talk to me. Sometimes they jump out and scream "I wouldn't say that!" I used to think writers were crazy when they talked about their characters that way:)