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Hear that? The buzzer went off. It’s time to start a new middle grade novel and I’m trying something different. I’m conducting interviews of the people who hope to populate my story.

My goal is to become better acquainted with my already-identified main character as early in the novel-writing process as possible. Why? Well, for one thing, that kid and I are going to spend a heck of a lot of time together. But also, knowing him allows me to anticipate how he’ll think and feel in the situations I’ll plot for him.

Based on the interview outcomes for each player–primary and secondary–I’ll compile character sketches. Each character has a job to do and I want to make sure they’re up for it. Slackers need not apply!

Oh sure, my characters will surprise me as we go–and that’s the fun part–but I hope hosting a meet and greet for the entire cast at the outset proves helpful before we buckle up and motor into the unknown together.

Here are some sample character interview questions:
Who is your hero?
What’s your favorite day of the week? How come?
What’s under your bed?
What’s your earliest memory?
Do you have any allergies?
What candy is your all-time favorite?
If you could change your name, what would it be?
What’s your biggest fear?
What are you good at in school?
What do you wish you were good at?
When you look in a mirror, what part of your face do you like best?
What do you like to do when you get home from school?
Do you have a pet?
Do you have brothers or sisters?
How do you parents get along?
Who lives at your house?
What’s the best vacation or trip you’ve ever taken?
What seems unfair to you?
If you could live in another time in history, when would it be?
What ticks you off?
What rule would you change if you could?
What would happen if your best friend moved away?
What’s your least favorite chore at home?
Do you have a bad habit?
Do you like being hugged?
What would you do with $100?

These are just some starters. I know you can think up even better ones.

Why not interview your characters too? Even if you’re already mid-novel, it’s not too late to conduct an impromptu Q and A session. You may discover something that will add depth or quirkiness to your characters and “maybe” even help to explain why they do what they do (or aren’t cooperating!)

Have fun!

Every time I write a new book, I want to push myself to try something different. ~ Lauren Myracle

8 responses »

  1. Great questions! They really got me thinking about my main character. He remains elusive. It may be time for an interview. Thanks!


    • I hope interviewing is helpful to you. For me, the real trick to this process is to turn off my filter. Just let the character “talk,” even if the answer sounds silly or unrelated to what’s already happening in your story. I’ve been delighted by the details I’ve gleaned from hosting a character talk show. I hope you are, too. Best wishes to you!


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