As an author, we have to be careful not to draw one-dimensional, cookie-cutter characters. Even the bad guys weren't always bad (unless they're sociopathic, but that's a different story altogether). In THE ARCHITECT, I had to interview the ghost to find out what his deal was, and even then, there was more to the story (which I often don't discover until I keep on writing). In the current work in progress, my protagonist was keeping secrets from me, and I got as far as Chapter 5 in the first draft before I stopped and said "hey, wait a minute. I don't know enough about you." Putting on the brakes, I started writing down questions. How did she get to where she is today? What's her history?
When I start writing a new story, I begin with goals, motivation and conflict. It's a good start, but can still be fairly flat without knowing why they have those goals and what pushes their buttons. I knew their goals. I had motivation, and conflict, but I still didn't know enough about my characters to move the story forward. Generally, it takes several chapters before they start "talking to me," but this particular character wasn't talking.
Here are some of the questions I'm asking her:
- How did you get this job?
- What are your credentials?
- What's at stake if you fail to execute your directive?
- What are your afraid of?
- What makes you question your ability to successfully execute your job?
- Tell me about your family life. Are they instrumental in your career choice? Do they support your career choice? Do they encourage you or do they expect you to fail?
A little secret about THE ARCHITECT, the first hero failed his job interview and had to be replaced.
I'm moving forward with the next in the series. My protagonist passed her interview, but I still have much to uncover!
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