I’ve got to the stage in the book preparation when it’s customary to write ‘character profiles’. Whilst these are indeed worthwhile and good to have to hand I find that writing about what each character’s favourite colour is and what time they have dinner each evening a little tiresome to say the least. Today I’ve sat with my notebook and had something of a revelation. Perhaps people already do this, perhaps this is a total given for you as a writer but I’ve found it to be a complete breath of fresh air in a tide of details.
Interview your characters and let them speak.
My story starts in a small, Scottish town by the sea. A child went missing ten years previously and the body was never found. Her Mother moved away but has now gathered up the courage to return. In the first exercise I’ve sat down and written an interview with her. I didn’t plan it out nor did I set a tone for it. The whole thing just bounces back and forth from one side to the other. It’s forced me to answer questions I never thought of before as well such as the obvious need to know where her husband was when this happened.
When reading parts of it back I was also taken with how much this had subliminally altered her character. Beforehand I had her pinned as being really angry with the local police officer as, in her eyes, he promised to find her daughter but never truly delivered on it. Reading back the interview she seems to have given up on everybody. She’s not angry, just absolutely exhausted. This has rapidly changed how I look at her as a character.
I’ll be doing more of these with each of the main characters over the next few days. They’re all hand written for now but if there’s any interest then I might type them up and put one on this blog.