Interview With A Character
July 13, 2012 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Help me find this bookfilter: An writer's guide 'interview' with your own fiction character to help uncover their traits and depths. Or, a similar list of interview questions to learn a lot about someone in a short time.

At one time, while struggling with writer's block, I had about 20 books out of the library, all about "how to write fiction". I skimmed through them all, read some bits, ignored some bits, took them all back to the library.

There was one particular section in one particular book which I found interesting; the idea of pretending to be, say, a reporter, and actually sitting down with your main character and asking them a series of questions, about their job, about their past, about their hopes and fears. It was a great, organic way to explore the character and 'get into character' at the same time. It went something like this,

Me: So, you're a Duskblade. What does that job entail?

Vlad leans back in his chair and smiles at me, a smile that has nothing friendly about it. He replies, "Well, m'lady, my duty is to protect the Emperor... from the shadows."

Me: "I see. And what led you to this career?"

His dark brow furrows and the smile vanishes. "My father. He trained me... and then the shadows took him."

Etc. I'm paraphrasing but I recall the character she was 'interviewing' was some kind of badass fantasy type, and the author/interviewer was female.

I found the list of questions she had (which were more organic than the ones I've given, argh; I recall a few of them being things like "What's your most prized possession? Why? Where did you get it?" and "What scares you the most? How do you deal with that fear?" etc) and the process in general were really useful tools and I think they would be helpful, especially, for fleshing out role-playing characters for people new to the concept of RPGs.

So! I'm looking to find this book again, or, failing that, any series of something like "Twenty Questions to Ask Someone to Learn All About Them", perhaps something they'd teach to biographers or interviewers or reporters or something.

Thank you!
posted by The otter lady to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Uta Hagen's Nine Questions!
posted by steinsaltz at 11:34 AM on July 13, 2012

steinsaltz, I'm getting a 403 Forbidden response from the link.
posted by warble at 12:11 PM on July 13, 2012

Well, a general term for what you want is "character building" questions. Google offers a bunch of options (etc.), but it's hard to tell if one of them is specifically yours.

(Teeny tiny derail: If you're into this stuff, you should also check out Patricia Wrede's worldbuilding questions and blog where she writes about how to be a [fantasy] writer.)
posted by anaelith at 1:07 PM on July 13, 2012

This may just be more of a regional book, but Laurel Yourke's Take Your Characters to Dinner?
posted by Madamina at 5:59 PM on July 13, 2012

These were all helpful but not the one I was looking for; I finally went back to my old house, plugged in my old computer, and managed to dig up enough of a question to Google, and found it!
posted by The otter lady at 11:13 AM on July 16, 2012

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