I have a question.
How do you get to know your main characters? Do you sit and have a conversation with them? Do you collage them through music, photographs, etc? Do you free write in their voice? I’m fascinated by the process of becoming familiar with leading characters (and secondary ones, for that matter).
I was at a dinner get-together, and we began talking of how I get to know my characters. I tried to explain, without sounding *completely* insane, that I talk to them, that I like to interrogate them, sometimes. If you’ve ever seen the show Lie to Me, when an interrogation begins, they always try to get a baseline from the people they’re speaking to. To do this, they begin with emotionless questions, no why or how or feeling. They start by asking, "What is your name?" and "Where do you live?" And soon enough, the person being questioned begins to slip, to let things out that are less objective, more personal.
Also, there’s this added bonus I find of working in first person, as I did with NW and am now doing with ATB. I don’t get nearly as much writer’s block. I mean, of course I get stuck on plot, but in terms of actual inability to *write* not so much. It’s because no matter what happens, I can get my narrator to speak. They might not want to talk about the story, might not want to actually narrate in a relevant way at first, but just the ability to sit and type in their voice…I always find my way back to the road.
The other day I got stuck, so I just let Mackenzie ramble on, like this:
And while I don’t know if I can use any of it, it still helps me with her thought process, her mental state, etc.
So, I guess I’m just incredibly curious. How do you get to know your characters? How do you pry the details out of them? Do they just come to you, spreadsheet style, or do you have to dig?