Monday, August 06, 2007

A lot of writing instruction manuals suggest that to better get to know your character, you should imagine interviewing them. I try this every so often, but I've never really felt comfortable doing it. Here's how my interviews usually go:
Me: All right then, Vey, why don't you tell me a little about yourself?
Vey: (Stares blankly at me from across the table)
Me: Erm... (nervous paper shuffling) Why don't you tell me a little about your childhood? What made you the man you are today?
Vey: (Frowning) You do know you're talking to yourself, right?
Me: Well, ah, technically yes, but this is supposed to be an int-
Vey: I mean, let's be honest. I'm not even from your reality; why would I be sitting at a table with you?
Me: You're missing the point. I'm trying to get to know you better. I'm making the effort to figure out what makes you a unique individual. And no one can hear us, anyway.
Vey: Oh, all right. (Clears throat, then begins to speak in a stiff, artificial manner) I had a very difficult childhood. We were trained to-- Look, I'm sorry, this just isn't working for me. This isn't how I operate.
Me: Well, if you want to get real about, it, you don't normally speak like you're speaking now, either.
If you're gonna be a smartass, I can take my toys and go home.

When I write, when I think about my characters, I live in their skin. My outer body stills, and my mind turns to what they're seeing and feeling. It's difficult to do--and probably why I'm slow, since you can't do this when you're mind is buzzing with too much real-life responsibility. But writing through the character's skin gives them such life, such vibrance, that for a few moments I can forgive my pokiness and just enjoy the ride.