Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Getting to Know You

I'm about to embark on a new writing adventure. I'm thinking of a story for a writing contest hosted by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and Rooglewood Press. The story is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

I love fractured fairy tales. They're so much fun. I loved the retelling of Sleeping Beauty this summer with Disney's Malificent. Even though I'm not a huge fan of Angelina Jolie, I loved the movie. In particular, I loved the story, and how similar and very different it was from the Disney story I watched as a child. That's what I love about fractured fairy tales and retellings of fairy tales.

I digress.

So, I'm planning a story for this Beauty and the Beast retelling, and though I have the plot laid out in my head, I don't have a good feeling for the characters quite yet. That's always my biggest struggle.

I'll often say I have the best idea for a story!

I have yet to say, I have the best character for a story!

Maybe there are people who do that, but I'm not one of them. Nope, instead my stories tend to be very plot driven, instead of character driven. So, what do you do when you're not sure who your main character is?

Here's a technique I've used in the past, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to use it to figure out my Beauty and Beast characters for my story...I interview them.


I do.

I write down some interview questions, and then I take on their perspectives and answer the questions the way I think those characters would. It helps me to get in their skin a little bit, and figure out who they are. They don't always stay that way, and that's alright. It helps me though, to get a sense of who I am working with and what makes them tick.

Here are a few interview questions I'll be asking my next characters.

Tell me about your family.

Do you get along with your parents/siblings?

Do you consider yourself introverted or extroverted?

If you had the whole day to yourself, what would you do?

What's your favorite food?

If your house was burning down, and you had the chance to save one item, what would it be?

What quality to you admire most in people?

Where do you want to see yourself one year from now? 5 years from now?

What was the most difficult time in your life so far?

What is one thing you wish you could change about you or your past?

(If interviewing a villain) Were you born with evil tendencies, or was it something that happened over time?

(If interviewing a villain) Do you consider yourself evil, just misunderstood, or something else?

What do you most want to do in this world?

What is keeping you from doing what you want to do?

Who are your best friends?

Who/what is your greatest enemy?

So, that's about all the questions that I can think of for now. I'm sure that if I gave myself some more time, I could probably pump out some more, but honestly, as I start to interview my characters, I find that I have more questions for them. Just like a real interview.

So, if you're having trouble figuring out who your characters are, give this method a try. I hope you find it helpful.

If you have any other ways of getting into your characters' heads, I'd love to know about it. Leave your advice in the comments! Share the love!

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