Sunday, December 30, 2007

Question on Chracterization Interview or Worksheet

Question: Do you use a characterization interview or sheet to develop characters?

My response: After January 13 when I return from a weeks trip to Sedona, I'll be providing techniques on the topic of birthing characters. Though this is a lengthy process which I will cover more fully then, here's what I do.

I do characterization first by creating backstory. I ask myself what type of roots, heritage, childhood, family, living environment, experiences, faith, and dysfunctions did each major character experience. As we know, each of us are influenced and molded by our past. This information about my hero and heroine helps me to develop my character’s goals, motivation, and the resulting conflicts.

After I’ve made these decisions, I use a character work sheet to record other questions I have for the characters such as worst fear, dark secret, greatest need, etc. On the back of the sheet I sketch out my backstory. The sheet also has spots to help keep other facts straight, such as: the character's appearance, his or her car style, idiosyncrasies, etc. This works well for me. It’s simple but effective. Check out the character work sheet that I use.

So to answer the question. I create a past for my characters and then decide how that past has affected their lives. Once I know that, I ask the characters questions on my worksheet and record those along with other details that helps me be consistent with eye and hair color and style, build, type of vehicle, family members names, affiliations, jobs and such. It's very helpful too when it comes time to provide the cover art information for the editor.

I'll talk about this is greater detail in mid-January.

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