As I mentioned at the beginning of the week, I was going to try a different method to develop the characters for this story other than my usual process. I’m always open to, and looking for ways to improve my writing process. So, instead of just filling in the blanks on my character file template(name, age, gender, blah, blah, blah) and piecing my characters together like that, I was going to interview them and let my characters tell me about themselves.
So far, it’s been really interesting. I sat down with three of the four lead character of the script, Patricia Cole, her husband Darren Cole, and “Patty’s” best friend Alexa Graham. The past couple nights, I interviewed a different character, asked them questions, and let them answer freely. It was fun to learn things about them that I, the writer, their creator, didn’t know.
For instance, Patricia ran track in high school and college, she wants to be a clinical psychologist, and she has a younger sister who’s studying hard to be an Actress. I also found out that Alexa’s mother was a promiscuous alcoholic who slept with the husbands of their suburban neighbors and died of cancer. It’s amazing what you find out when you just let your characters talk.
This “interview” process has been loads of fun for me. It was odd at first , but a good “odd”. I looked at the list of questions and said “How the hell am I going to get through all this Sh!t.” It was daunting, mainly because I felt unprepared. That feeling of “I don’t know the answers to these questions.” But as I read each question and let the character take over and answer for themselves, everything just began to flow.
I asked questions like: “What kind of person are you?” What do you like to do for fun?” “What’s one of the worst moments of your life?” or say “Tell me a little about your past.” My fingers just started to move on their own, like on a Ouija Keyboard and the spirits of my characters would respond to tell me more and more about themselves. Tomorrow night I’ll interview Alexa’s husband Eric.
I think I’ll be using this method for a while. It’s fun and change is good. The only thing I want to work on is the ordering of the questions. I want the interview itself to tell a story about the character. I’ll just have to rearrange a couple of things.
In my next Project Journal, this Sunday, I’ll post Patricia’s interview.