Friday, November 12, 2010

Writing Character Interviews

I have heard that authors interview their characters at some point, or they should. I always thought that was weird. Shouldn't you already know your characters? Why give them an interview when you already know everything about them?

Well, one day, I was stuck with a character and I decided to try this out. I WAS AMAZED! I didn't know what to do, so I just started writing and asking silly questions I already knew the answers to. But then it grew! I realized there were aspects of his character, based on his answers, that I hadn't fleshed out. This allowed me to know everything about him!
So, now I'm a FIRM believer in character interviews!

Do you want to see an example? I'll share part of one of the interviews I did for 'The Mirror' that I'm currently working on. You'll notice I start with simple questions and work my way up. I make sure and include physical things when I can. They help me understand my character too. I didn't know this character very well, when I started but as I interviewed him, he really took shape and became exciting! :)

King Ferrin: You know I could have you thrown in prison and executed.

Me: Yes.

King Ferrin: So, you’d better not ask too many sensitive questions.

Me: For arguments’ sake, I will agree. But you and I both know that I can write you off the page at any time.

King Ferrin: Touché. Alright then, author woman, hit me with whatever you’ve got.

Me: (sigh) Tell me about your kingdom.

King Ferrin: Starting with the mundane.

Me: Why not.

King Ferrin: There are six districts of my kingdom. The Forest. The Swamp. The Ice Lands. The Desert. The Low Lands. The High Lands. Splitting the land are The Cliffs. And The Ocean boarders our land on the west.

Me: Original names.

King Ferrin: (glares)

Me: I assume there are townships within these districts. Can you tell me a little about them?

King Ferrin: There are big and little cities, towns, provinces, farms. There are six councilmen. One from each district.

Me: How do you determine who becomes a councilman?

King Ferrin: I choose men based on their services to me.

Me: No women?

King Ferrin: Ha! Not likely. Women are only good for a couple things in life. (raises eyebrows)

Me: A-hem. Let’s keep this clean.

King Ferrin: (shrugs)

Me: What do your councilmen do?

King Ferrin: Twice a year, we all meet at The Palace in the High Lands and deliberate about the kingdom. We discuss major issues. They give their advice and I make a decision.

Me: You only meet twice a year? What if something comes up?

King Ferrin: That’s just a typical year. Things come up and sometimes I ask for my councilmen’s advice, sometimes I don’t. See one of the great things about being king, is I get to do what I want. When I want.

Me: What about your people?

King Ferrin: What they don’t know doesn’t hurt them. I have the men I trust most at the Palace with me. When things are kept low key, there’s no need for the people to get worked up.

Me: I see. So how much do you hide from your kingdom?

King Ferrin: (laughs) Most things. I usually let them know about the good things. Like the small disputes that are resolved.

Me: So they know nothing about the tension building between your kingdom and your brother’s?

King Ferrin: Not even Rohan knows of that. He thinks he’s privy to everything, but the boy is so green it’s laughable. He’d lose it if he knew! He loves Falcon too much.

Me: Well, I know about it. Will you tell me what led up to this tension? And what are you doing to prepare for war?

King Ferrin: (laughs) Falcon and I have never gotten along well. He was the older son, but incompetent to be king. He ascended anyway and ran things so contrary to how Father did.

Me: How does Falcon run things?

King Ferrin: He makes decisions based on what the ‘people’ want. (sneers) Rohan would do the same, you know. If he didn’t know so much, I would send him to live with his uncle. Falcon has no sons. Although, if he did, he would give them all titles. Not all king, but they would all have a title.

Me: You don’t give titles to your other sons?

King Ferrin: Hell no! They could buy one just like everyone else.

Me: I didn’t realize so many have titles.

King Ferrin: (laughs) They don’t. But they’ve tried to bribe me anyway. I’ve put them on a waiting list!

Me: (stares in shock)

King Ferrin: Malone is the man closest to receiving a title in my kingdom. He’s a boy after my own heart. I’m seriously considering giving the crown to him instead of Rohan.

Me: Doesn’t the crown go to your oldest son?

King Ferrin: Traditionally. But I make the laws and I can change them. I’m waiting to announce it. I’d hate an uprising.

Me: How would you do it? You aren’t wanting an uprising but you don’t care for the people’s opinion.

King Ferrin: (smiles) Malone is currently working with a small team of men, training the dragons that reside on The Cliffs. When we go to war with Falcon, Rohan will lead the men. He will be on the front lines and when Malone comes in to save the day with the dragons…. Well, Rohan will most certainly die, as will his brother, Kellin. That leaves Malone to ascend to the throne.

Me: Now, Malone is your wife’s nephew?

King Ferrin: Yes. I came here and married Clissilda. She gave me two worthless sons, and a daughter, who will only prove promising when she marries Malone.

Me: Malone?!

King Ferrin: Yes! (glares and I stay silent) Malone! He is Jezzie’s only child.

Me: (nodding) I heard you were involved some other activities as well. Other than dragons and war. Will you tell me about them?

King Ferrin: You’ll only hound me if I don’t.

Me: True. (smiling sweetly)

King Ferrin: Where to begin?

Me: (eye narrow)

King Ferrin: Let’s start with Falcon. It always starts and ends with him. Does it not?


Candice said...

Best character interview I ever read! :)

Rachel Rager said...

Thanks, Candice!!