Getting To Know You

Okay – I’m at the crossroads in the cycle of my writing life. I’m done with one manuscript (although I may switch some chapters around do some rewrites – but I digress) and chomping at the bit to start the next one. And, this is my honeymoon period, my magical time when I am getting to know my characters and seeing where they want to go with this story. Why do they need this story told?

I have a process for this and a place where I deposit all of this crazy information that I glean and will probably never use.  I dump all this stuff – photos (Like the inspiration for my latest hero), maps, research – into Scrivener for Windows in the WIP Notebook I bought from Jeannie Reusch and loaded into the Scrivener tool.  This allows me to keep track of the details of names, places etc of the main characters and the secondary characters as well. It’s a little anal but it keeps from calling the mailman Bob in Chapter 1 and Skippy in Chapter 6.

But, this really doesn’t help me get under the skin of my character. Yep, their eye color is important but it doesn’t get to the essence of my character.  So, I’ve developed a few questions that help me get down to the grit of who the hero and heroine are:

1. What do you want out of life?

2. What is keeping you from achieving that goal?

3. What is the one thing you wouldn’t want the hero/heroine to know about you?

4. What is your biggest regret?

5. What are you most proud of in your life?

6. What are you most ashamed of in your life?

7. When you walk in a room, what are the three things people will notice about you?

8. What would you be willing to lie about?

9. How would you like to die?

10. What are the most important traits in a true friend?

That’s my list.  Pretty grim but I think that the darkest parts of ourselves are what really counts – the rest is a facade for the comfort of other people.

So, what are your questions? What is your process?




8 thoughts on “Getting To Know You

  1. Tough questions, Robin. Not sure I could answer all of them about myself!
    Here’s another grim one: what would you be willing to die for?
    And how about: what, if anything, is unforgivable?

  2. Before I get into the nitty gritty, I actually like to start a bit lighter. I find that by starting lighter, I evolve into those tough questions. So I begin with things like:

    1. What is your favorite color?
    2. What do you wear to bed?
    3. What is your bra size? (Very important for romance)
    4. What’s your favorite dessert?
    5. What subject were you best/worst at in high school?

    1. kerri – I have the lighter questions too but these are the ones that help me get under their skin. One of my fave questions is asking them how they lost their virginity – good one!

  3. Sorry Robin, so distracted by the hotness of the picture that my brain turned to mush. Yummmmmmmy.

    OK, back now. I like to think about my character’s sense of humor and how they see themselves. Example: In Up a Dry Creek, Claire is petite and not really much of a physical threat, but she sees herself as a real badass. 🙂 Also, she is a klutz.

  4. Robin and fellow mermaids,
    I think I’m the odd woman out. I have to say I don’t have a list of questions I ask my characters. I guess the way I feel I get closest to them is by waiting for their most intimate conversation to pop up on my radar and then I play it on constant repeat until I literally feel like I can squeeze the emotions out. But I really LOVE yours Robin about what’s the one thing you wouldn’t want the hero/heroine to know about you.

  5. Great questions Robin! I don’t really have a list of questions. I make out an index card for each character that lists physical traits and anything else I think it might be important to remember about a character. Especially secondary characters so they don’t have green eyes in chapter 1 and brown in chapter 7.
    I may have to adopt some of your questions though… like what is the one thing you wouldn’t want the hero/heroine to know about you or Pintip’s what would you be willing to die for, or what would be unforgivable… I think those are the kinds of questions to give real insight into a character.

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