Friday Fix (Craft): Getting to Know Your Characters

Business HandshakeThe better you know your characters before you start writing your story, the stronger story you will write.  Why? Because your plot proceeds out of your character’s actions and your character’s actions proceed out of his motivation.  Motivation is a matter of the heart, and knowing your character’s heart requires knowing your character.

So how do you get to know your character?  One great technique is to interview her.  Yes, interview, as in ask your character questions. 

Before I write a story, I sit down with my laptop and ask my protagonist some very in-depth  questions.  Here are a few of them:

  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What is your greatest need?
  • What is your greatest desire?
  • What is your greatest dream?
  • What would you die for?
  • What would you live for?

The purpose of these questions is to get to the core of who my character is; in other words, to get to her heart.  And remember, as I mentioned above, the heart is the seat of motivation.  Motivation drives actions, and actions drive plot.

What techniques do you use to get to know your characters?
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Photo Source: Microsoft Clipart

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