Sunday, March 23, 2014

Talking to My(self) Characters

I’m trying something new. In my monthly writing goals, I’m designating a focus for that month. March is CHARACTER. I’ve buried myself in character profiles and questions and am even working on generic body outlines to fill with physical descriptions. I’ve been answering questions ranging from What’s your style of dress? to Was your childhood happy? to What are your bad habits? for all my characters. Especially my main character, Quinn. Having these in-depth, detailed conversations with my characters has been extraordinarily helpful. Even if it means I’m staring into space for hours, muttering to myself and basically looking like a crazy person. A crazy writer person.

Anyway, there are some questions that have been better getting to the heart of my characters than others. Here are the best, most soul-sucking (in a good way) questions that I've come across:

·         What’s the best thing that has happened to you?

·         What’s the worst thing that has happened to you?

·         Who are you protecting?

·         When was the last time you cried? Why?

·         What are you afraid of? What keeps you up at night?

·         What do you want? What’s standing in your way of getting it?

·         Give an example of a time you lied to protect another.

·         Give an example of a time you lied to protect yourself.

·         Give an example of a situation where you were violent.

·         Give an example of a situation where you were heroic.

·         Tell me something you’ve never told anyone.

·         Tell me the first lie that pops into your head.

Yeah, these aren’t your What’s your job and do you like it? run-of-the-mill questions. These are meant to dive into the soul of characters. They are deep and dark. They are meant to bring something to the surface that will surprise you or make you shiver. Or both! These questions drudge to the depths of what truly defines my characters.

What’s the next step, after filling page after page with answers? Applying them to my novel. Rewrite necessary scenes with relevant answers in mind, considering that the character might react differently or subtly or outrageously. Edit backstory with pertinent answers. But really, once I know the answers to the questions, it will affect my writing without me even thinking about it. The more I know about my characters, the more they will (hopefully) seem like well-rounded, REAL LIVE people in text as I continue editing my draft.

Now, back to conversing with my characters… Okay fine, I’m just talking to myself.

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