Thursday, May 17, 2018

How to Get Inside the Head of a Pesky Character by Dellani Oakes


Sometimes, it's not easy getting into the mind of a character. That can be problematic, because you need to know them inside and out, to properly depict them on paper.
To that end, some authors like to use a character interview, answering as the character. There are some where the questions are directed at the author, about the character. I don't like these as well, because it doesn't force me to think like that other person, I project my interpretation of them onto the questions—if that makes any sense?
An author friend of mine, Pat Bertram, kindly shared the list that she uses. I have added, subtracted and fiddle about to suit me, but the majority of this list is hers. Thank you, Pat! It has been very helpful over the years. Sometimes, you will be surprised at what the characters say!
Answer the questions which are most applicable, and don't use the ones that make no sense. For example, if a character lives far in the past, he's not going to have a lighter and cellphone. If he's in the future, he might not have car keys.
Next week, I will share an interview of one of my characters, using these questions. I was stunned (and somewhat alarmed) at how he answered them.

Below is the list of questions. Feel free to borrow it and modify it to your own needs. Happy Writing!

Who are you?
What is your story?
Where do you live?
Are you the hero of your own story?
What is your problem in the story?
Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?
Do you embrace conflict?
Do you run from conflict?
How do you see yourself?
How do your friends see you?
How do your enemies see you?
How does the author see you?
Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
What do you think of yourself?
Do you have a hero?
Do you have a goal?
What are your achievements?
Do you talk about your achievements?
Do you keep your achievements to yourself?
Do you have any special strengths?
Do you have any special weaknesses?
Do you have any skills?
Do you have money troubles?
What do you want?
What do you need?
What do you want to be?
What do you believe?
What makes you happy?
What are you afraid of?
What makes you angry?
What makes you sad?
What do you regret?
What is your biggest disappointment?
What, if anything, haunts you?
Are you lucky?
Have you ever failed at anything?
Has anyone ever failed you?
Has anyone ever betrayed you?
Have you ever failed anyone?
Have you ever betrayed anyone?
Do you keep your promises?
Are you honorable?
Are you healthy?
Do you have any handicaps?
Do you have any distinguishing marks?
What was your childhood like?
Do you like remembering your childhood?
Did anything newsworthy happen on the day you were born?
Did you get along with your parents?
What in your past had the most profound effect on you?
What in your past would you like to forget?
What in your past would you like others to forget?
Who was your first love?
Who is your true love?
Have you ever had an adventure?
What is the most important thing that ever happened to you? Why?
Was there a major turning point in your life?
Was there ever a defining moment of your life?
Is there anything else about your background you’d like to discuss?
What is your most closely guarded secret?
What is your most prized possession? Why?
Do you have any hobbies?
What is your favorite scent? Why?
What is your favorite color? Why?
What is your favorite food? Why?
What is your favorite beverage? Why?
What is your favorite music? Why?”
What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?
Name five items in your purse, briefcase, or pockets.
What are the last five entries in your check registry?
What are the last three books you read?
If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?
If you had the power to change one thing in the world that didn’t affect you personally, what would it be?
What makes you think that change would be for the better?
If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?
How do you envision your future?

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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