Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hello, new character

I got some writing done yesterday, and I now have some semblance of an outline. What's missing, though, is a real, in-depth knowledge of my character. So, I'm going to try to have a "conversation" with her here.

Bug: Hello, J.
J: Hi.
Bug: So, tell me a bit about your childhood.
J: I grew up in a typical suburb. Typical family really. I have one sister. We had a dog growing up. My parents are still married.
Bug: Are you close to your sister?
J: Not really. She's a little perky for my taste.
Bug: Perky?
J: Yeah, she's always happy. Always doing new things, joining new clubs. I'm more of a home body. Well, maybe not home body exactly, but I prefer to have a few good friends rather than a ton of OK ones. And I like people who are OK with being depressed sometimes. Sis isn't like that. I imagine if I told her I was depressed she'd tell me to take up knitting or whatever her latest fad was.
Bug: What about your parents, what are they like?
J: My mom stayed home with us kids, my dad worked as a lawyer for various companies. They're fine people. Again, maybe not the kind I'd chose to hang out with, but what can you do. They talk a lot about nothing.
Bug: So what about your husband, what's he like?
J: Dan is really smart. He's a philosophy professor at a SUNY school in upstate NY. That's why we moved to the middle of nowhere five years ago, so he could teach there. He's not tenured yet, so he works a lot, trying to do well by his students and also publish a ton of papers and get a book idea going. I'm a bit jealous of his career right now. I'm in pharmaceutical sales, which I like enough. I know everyone hates pharma companies, but there are some real positives to us, too. Like the fact that we create new drugs in the first place. But the people I work with, they're really more interested in money than much else. It makes for boring conversations.
Bug: Have you made many friends Upstate?
J: I do have a few women I hang out with. I'm in a book club, and there's a woman I met through gardening, M. She's probably my best friend right now. Though I don't feel as close to her as I wish I did. She's a bit like my sister now that I think about it. She's smarter than Sis, but she's got a perky edge to her, like she doesn't seem to get me when I talk about any sort of "dark" subject, like how someone could cheat on their spouse or how hard it is to get out of bed some days.
Bug: What makes it hard to get out of bed?
J: Hm. That's a tough question. It's nothing concrete, exactly. Just this underlying feeling I always have, but that bubbles to the surface sometimes, that life is pretty meaningless. I mean, why do I bother to get up and get doctors' offices to prescribe one type of drug over another. Or plant bulbs. Or clean my kitchen. These tasks are never ending, and without some sort of bigger goal, or bigger picture, they seem kind of pointless. I don't think I'm making much sense. I think that's because I haven't been able to talk to anyone about this in a while. Dan is really busy and I hate to bother him. And like I said, M wouldn't really get it.
Bug: And what do you look like?
J: I have shoulder length hair. It's brown, though now that I'm in my mid-thirties I have to die pieces of gray, which is depressing. I never thought I'd be one of those women who complained about her body growing older, but it's really weird how quickly it seems to happen. I look at pictures of myself when I was in college, or even when Dan and I got married, and I'm amazed to see how different I am... But back to your question. I'm average height--5,5, fairly average weight. I'm a little broad in the shoulders and hips, no one would call me petite. I think I'm pretty. I've got a small gap in between my middle teeth. It's one of those things that's barely noticeable, but once people do see it, they think it's cute. Best Blogger Tips


FatCharlatan said...

Next time you're beating yourself up for not doing enough writing, pull out these blog posts from the last week, especially this one. I love reading these conversations/interviews you have with your characters--you really do a good job of getting in their heads. Nice work!

Brian said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I love this *interview*. Been known to do that myself. :)

DJPare said...

Great start - she's vivid already!

The fact that she (met women) is in two clubs (book & gardening) though seems a little of a conflict with earlier comments, about being more of a homebody and that its the sister who would do new things - join clubs.

Keep going!

Bug said...

Thanks guys. Don, good point!

briliantdonkey said...


Never thought of or heard of doing an interview/conversation with your characters. Now that I see and hear it it seems like one of those 'why didnt i think of it brilliant ideas'. I would have to agree with DJ regarding the conflict, so doing this little excercise has already helped a bit.


Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
papyrus said...

I enjoyed reading this. It's certainly a great idea to make the character come to life. Couldn't help thinking the last question was a little forced; sort of I need to include this stuff so I'll tag it onto the end. But the answer was fine.

It's really whet my appetite for the story. Hope you'll post it sometime.

Repeater said...

What a great idea. I often write a synopsis of what I know about a character, but the question/answer format seems a good idea in order to reveal more. Thanks for the inspiration!