“What is your name?” I ask.
She sighs and crosses her legs at the ankle. She is wearing a short black skirt yet a sensible red T-shirt that reads “I HAD FUN ONCE…I DIDN’T LIKE IT.” This lets me know that she can be pessimistic and sarcastic. I take note of that.
“Maxine.” She answers.
“Your full name.”
She tilts her head to the side.
“Maxine LaShawn Marshall.”
“How old are you, Ms. Marshall?”
“I’m a Miss not a Ms.”
“I apologize. So how old are you?”
“25…no wait 26. I just turned 26.”
“Look are you 25 or 26?”
“Next Question. How would you describe yourself?”
“Isn’t that your job?”
“Don’t be a smart…Let me write that down. *scribbling on paper* “She…is..a…smartass.”
“I am not a smartass!”
*still scribbling* “and…very…disagreeable.”
First and foremost. I am madly in love with my characters. I think about them all the time. I fall asleep thinking about them and I wake up thinking about them. They are the reason why I stay up to 3 in the morning listening to them and telling their stories on the crisps white paper.
I hope that this does not sound weird to you. I mean my characters are a figment of my imagination and I am admitting my love for them. All of them. Hundreds of them.
I can’t help myself. I know my characters better than I know myself and no matter how good or bad they are I love them just as much as I love myself. They are like my children that have grown out a tiny idea of a person into a full grown living breathing man or woman that only lives in my imagination and soon in the imagination of thousands of readers.
How do I help them grow and become full function breathing adults you may ask?
The process is simple.
You must interview your characters and for the ones that don’t want to cooperate…I have ways to make them talk.
The above conversation was I interviewing Maxine Marshall, my main female character in my novel “Prohibited”. There is no way I can tell her story from her point of view if I do know her voice. If I do not know her voice how will a reader bond with her the way that I have.
It is essential to know your characters inside and out. There is no substitution. When you don’t know them your readers can see that. Your characters will come off as shallow and without a believable personality.
Therefore, I sit them down and I question them until I’m satisfied.