Characters can be pains in the arse sometimes. At least, some of ours can be. In particular our two oldest and most established characters, so we’ve decided it’s time to introduce James and Ava to the world… or at least to whoever reads this blog.
One of the things we have found from writing is that if you don’t know your characters well enough and are unable to easily distinguish between who is talking or reacting at the time, then neither will your readers. And if you don’t know your characters then you will not know how they will react to whatever given situation you intend to throw them into. This is where character interviewing can come in handy.
For last year’s A-Z Challenge, we mentioned about how we sometimes use quizzes to get to know our characters better. But actually interviewing your characters can reveal much more… even if it’s just to find out what they don’t want to talk about or that they hate being interviewed.
In this post we have included an interview with Ava and James from our WIP series ‘Emissaries’:
Interviewer: Ok, shall we start with the standard introduction question? So, who are you, what do you do and anything else you would like to add?
Ava: Hi…My name’s Ava Mendez, no middle name, I’m a nurse in Dublin
James: James McCann… Emergency doctor in the same hospital.
Interviewer: A bit of a predictable one now, what four adjectives best sum you up?
Ava: Oooh, hard one…Hard working, complicated, compassionate and…er…difficult I suppose
James: I dunno… Skinny.. erm.. sarcastic, anti-social… and neurotic
I: Ok, well, what about each other? How would you describe each other?
Ava: Him, brave, loving, loyal, self deprecating and brilliant
James: Suure… Sure you’re not talking about someone else?
Ava: Of course I am…that wardrobe boyfriend I told you about. Yes I’m talking about you, now are you going to answer or not?
James: Fine, Ok… She’s annoying for a start… but also kind, brave, caring… beautiful… that do?
I: Going a little bit deeper what are you most afraid of?
James: …none of your business.
Ava: Waking up and finding out that none of this…actually happened…and what I was, is still what I am
I: And what would you say is your deepest secret?
James: See.. this is why I didn’t want to do this
Ava: I’m not completely human
I: Going down a different route, what is more important – sex or intimacy? Why?
James: …wh…what? How is that.. What does that… That has nothing to do with anyone.
Ava: Sex without intimacy, without love to me isn’t worth having, so intimacy…and just answer James
James: But it’s nothing to do with them
I: Lets move on to the past, shall we? Where did you grow up?
Ava: I grew up in Kent
I: Staying with the past what were your family like? Did you get along with them? Do you see them much now?
Ava: My family were wonderful until my mother died, then everything went a bit wrong because my father couldn’t cope. I got along very well with my sister, but with them being dead they aren’t really up for visits.
James: Mine were…were… busy. Didn’t really get on, no… and no, no, I don’t see them much.. Well, depends on the family member I guess.
I: Was there a major turning point in your life?
Ava: I…yes there was…something happened and I had to choose a path, I think I chose the right one
James: I think I had two
James: Mhm, one was meeting you
I:What in your past would you like to forget?
Ava: My first marriage
James: A lot of things
I: And what in your past would you like others to forget?
Ava: The thing that set me on my path
James: A few things… maybe, who my parents are
I: Is there anything else about your past you’d like to discuss?
Ava: My past is a little too big for that question
James: No. Not even a little bit.
I: So, lets focus on life at the moment. What would you say you are most proud of about your life?
Ava: Oh shush…that I got out of my first marriage…so I can have the second one
I:Following on from that what’s the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?
Ava: James for both questions
James: Same… Well, except, Ava.. not me.
I: How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
Ava: I’m really happy, and I don’t want to change anything
James: Mm, happy for once… definitely wouldn’t change anything
I: Obvious answer coming here I feel, but are you currently in a relationship? If so how did you meet your partner?
Ava: Yep, with James, we met at work
James: And you actually tried to talk to me
Ava: How dare I
James: I know
I: Swiftly moving on to future plans. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t gotten around to it yet? If so, what and what would happen if you did it?
Ava: Got married, had kids…and possibly James would vanish in a puff of smoke
Ava: You need to answer
James: No… you need to explain that answer…’cause it made no sense
Ava: Well would you want to marry the annoying girl?
James: Oh for… Yes, I’m dating her aren’t I?
Ava: You still didn’t answer
James: I’m aware… because there’s nothing that I’ve always wanted to do, I was very boring and goalless
I: OK, I think we should move on, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
James: Married to the annoying girl
James: You heard, don’t make me say it again.. in front of people.
Ava: I think I’m going to have to
James: Oh.. just answer the question so we can go…. please.
Ava: Married to this grumpy git, maybe with a baby or two
Hopefully, this has been a little entertaining and shows how interviewing your characters can provide you with a better understanding of their reactions and quirks.
We will be putting up the interview questions as a page tomorrow, so feel free to use them to interview you own characters.