Getting my characters to talk

Anyone who writes will understand the frustration of being psyched up about sitting down to work and discovering that at least one of the characters you planned to work with is not speaking to you at that moment. Of course, the “right” thing to do is to plow on, make that character work for you. After all, they belong to us, not the other way around, right? My problem is I’m not a very tough boss. When I was an actual boss person, I was awful at telling people to do something they didn’t want to do. I was always trying to find ways to make them want to do the work, possibly even enjoy it, and often ended up doing the work myself rather than have an unhappy employee. I’m the same with my characters. I’m not good at making them do things or say things that don’t feel right, even though I know I can fix it in a later draft when they do come around for a more productive visit. I want them to be happy now. (Not that all my characters are happy people. Some are true bastards. One is in a terribly dysfunctional relationship and knows it. But, they’re in situations of their own making, and that's close enough to happiness for this fiction writer.)

All of this prelude is in explanation of what I’m about to post. It’s a tried and true exercise that I’ve found works well for me as a way to a character talking, because, they, like real people, love to talk about themselves. It's the well known Questions segment from “Inside the Actor’s Studio”. Today it also serves to introduce a major character from one of my novels in progress, working titled “Sucklimation”. (It’s not a vampire story. The word suck in the title refers to something lower on the human male anatomy. And it’s not porn, either.)

Michael (An artist going through mid-life crisis at the same time he meets a new muse who comes with more baggage than Michael wants to carry)
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
Bottom line
What turns you on?
Finding that one tiny mark that keeps something from being perfect
What turns you off?
Too much hunger for anything. Passion is good, but when it becomes a hunger, that’s too needy for me. You could call it addiction, but that wouldn't be quite right.
What sound do you love?
What sound to you hate?
What profession other than yours would you attempt?
What profession would you not like to participate in?
What is your favorite curse word?
Bedamn. I don't use swear words.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“You were right, it really didn’t matter what you believed, it was all about how you lived.”

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

Cool idea. I'm going to go and ask my characters some questions and see what they come up with.