Recently I was discussing ways to better understand your characters with another author. There are tons of worksheets and questionnaires out there. Methods and processes for authors to develop motivation and backstory for their characters. Step-by-step lists and inventories to identify turning points and triggers.
These are all great things, but they don't work so well when you have stubborn characters who don't want to give away secrets. You would think as the author I would have some control over my characters. You'd be wrong. The few times I've tried to "control" my characters, they've laughed at me. They sat back to watch me flounder about until I admitted defeat and then let them tell me what their stories were.
So, when I was talking to my friend, I wanted to know what kinds of questions she'd ask if she were to get an opportunity to chat with a character. By the time we got finished, I had a good 30+ questions -- some geared toward my current characters' story, others were more generic.
Examples of the kinds of questions we came up with:
It's your night to pick a video, which do you choose? Something you know your significant other will want to see, something you would like, or a combination of both?
What's the most romantic thing you've ever done or had done for you by your significant other?
Do you want a big family?
What's the one thing your significant other does that irritates the crap out of you?
Favorite time of day?
What was the first thing you noticed about one another?
All of those are good questions, I thought. And, being that I tend to like to get more than one person's opinion, I just happened to be chatting on the phone with another author friend while I was "instant messaging" the first one about interview questions.
She asked me when do I interview my characters. That was when it hit me: the interviews I've conducted so far have all been significantly after the time of the book. Which -- if I keep in mind the fact that I'm trying to get to know my characters with these interviews -- means an interview is not my way to gain insight into my characters before I write the book. LOL
Can you say bummed? Imagine my surprise when my friend (the one on the phone) went a step farther and asked me, "What about your next book? Or the other books in the series? What do you see when you sit down with the characters?" And the first thing that came to mind was -- I only see the characters up to a few months after Santa's Elf. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing? But, like I said earlier, it makes it clear that interviewing my characters isn't going to work in the pre-writing stage of my books.
So, since I know interviews won't work for preparing the book, but I still like chatting with my characters after the fact, I'm not discounting interviews as a means of introducing them to new readers. With that in mind, what are some of the questions you'd like to see answers to? Keep in mind, I write contemporary erotic romance with Dominant/submissive and BDSM elements.
I'd love to read your suggestions. Have a great day!!