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Zee

Character Interviews

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Has anyone ever used one of these character interviews while "getting to know" the people you're dreaming up? Whether you have or not, how would your current main character answer these questions?

 

Who are you?

Where do you live?

How do your friends see you?

How do your enemies see you?

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

What do you think of yourself?

Do you have any special strengths?

Do you have any special weaknesses?

What do you want?

What do you need?

What makes you happy?

What are you afraid of?

Are you lucky?

What in your past would you like to forget?

Have you ever had an adventure?

What is the most important thing that ever happened to you?

What is your most prized possession?

What is your favorite color?

What is your favorite item of clothing?

How do you envision your future?

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No, I can't say that I have, Zee.  And I don't spend any time interviewing my characters- I just sort of create them out of whole cloth.

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To tell the truth, neither have I...but it seemed an interesting idea.

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I did a character questionnaire for my novel I’ve put on hold. I enjoyed it, but SW has a good point, you can get bogged down in answering questions and not writing your manuscript. For my short stories, I started using the “Write 20 things about your character” method I found in a writing craft book. For me, it’s enough to know some backstory and descriptive attributes, but keeps me from going overboard.  Don’t feel beholden to your answers though, because as I found while writing, characters can change on you.

 

Just suggestions :D

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I’ve never done it before but thought perhaps it might help me to write stories that are a bit longer and more complex. Having a more thoroughly sketched-out character background, I mean. I’m determined to get up to 50,000 words next time.

 

It seems  that lots of people do this...in fact some would go so far as to say you can’t write a proper character without it, and there are numerous questionnaire type lists like this one, some frighteningly long.

 

But maybe it’s not really a necessary component of story planning, but just one of those things that if it’s helpful, great, but if not, you’re not messing up if you don’t use it. 

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54 minutes ago, Zee said:

if it’s helpful, great, but if not, you’re not messing up if you don’t use it. 

Agreed, like a lot of things in life! 

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1 hour ago, Zee said:

It seems  that lots of people do this...in fact some would go so far as to say you can’t write a proper character without it, and there are numerous questionnaire type lists like this one, some frighteningly long.

 

Trust me on this, I've written plenty of books without it, and I've published plenty of authors who didn't use one either.  It's strictly a matter of choice.

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I don't start from a list of character questions, by any means. But I was finding recently that two characters were sounding a lot alike. I couldn't combine them since they were husband and wife. So I did answer some questions for the husband, to help figure out how to draw him out and write him different than his wife. It was very helpful in that way. But I probably won't ever start from there.

 

I do make some of my own notes about possible love languages, introvert/extrovert, and keep those nearby to make sure my characters are responding "in character."

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I have done one in the past, but my characters change so much in the writing process the interview was off. My characters change and evolve as I write. I don't really know them well until I get into the writing process.

 

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I've tried them, but they haven't helped my writing significantly. What has made absolute sense to me is C. S. Lakin's approach to characterization:

 

1. What is the lie s/he believes?

2. What happened in their past that got them believing that lie? 

3. What do they need that the lie is keeping them from? 

 

Lastly, to quote Orson Scott Card: "Characterization only begins when there’s a second character and you can show the relationship between them."

 

Basically, you need characters interacting with each (or the world) to be able to see who they are. Answering characterization questions doesn't always allow you to see this. 

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9 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

I've tried them, but they haven't helped my writing significantly. What has made absolute sense to me is C. S. Lakin's approach to characterization:

 

1. What is the lie s/he believes?

2. What happened in their past that got them believing that lie? 

3. What do they need that the lie is keeping them from? 

 

Lastly, to quote Orson Scott Card: "Characterization only begins when there’s a second character and you can show the relationship between them."

 

Basically, you need characters interacting with each (or the world) to be able to see who they are. Answering characterization questions doesn't always allow you to see this. 

 

That's a great resource.

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12 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

1. What is the lie s/he believes?

2. What happened in their past that got them believing that lie? 

3. What do they need that the lie is keeping them from?

AH! That's just what I need. Thank you!

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