So in the past week I’ve been getting quite a bit done as far as outlining. The plot has definitely grown and filled out, and thanks to one of my new favorite techniques, the characters have come a long way as well. The technique I’m talking about is interviewing my characters.
I first found out about this technique (though really, it’s not exactly unheard of) in the book Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K. M. Weiland, which you can read more about in https://thenighttimenovelist.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/what-im-reading-4-3-2012/. I started out with the basic “What is your name?” and look what happened:
Anna. Anna Clark.
Do you like your name?
I suppose so.
What does your name mean to you?
I don’t know. My mother chose it; it was her sister’s name. She died as a young girl.
I’m not sure. Mum mentioned something about a disease of some kind. Cancer perhaps.
How did this affect her?
She was my mother’s only family other than her grandmother. I know from her stories that they were very close, so I imagine it was very hard for her. Whenever she talked about Anna, Mum grew very…She seemed far away, as though she were with her sister instead of me.
So when did Anna die?
Well, I know my mother was sent away to boarding school when she was thirteen, and Anna was a few years younger than her. I think Anna died while my mother was away.
That must have been very difficult for your mother to deal with.
It was, I think. She was always very protective of me, and I’ve always thought that had something to do with the guilt of being away when Anna died.
What was her relationship with her grandmother like?
Mum rarely talked about her. I don’t think they got along very well. I know her grandmother died a few years after I was born, and I’ve never seen her. I think Mum cut off contact with her after she left school.
Where did she go to school?
A Catholic school in Spain, I believe. She hated it there.
Well, she didn’t really believe in God to begin with. I wouldn’t either if I were in her place. And she sometimes spoke about the corruption of the church; the nuns and priests must not have treated her kindly.
So what happened after she left school?
She didn’t go to university. I think she started working at a bookshop in London. She stayed there for a few years and then quit to work at a flower nursery. It was always her dream to be a florist.
Originally, I’d planned out all the questions I was going to ask, but after the first three, I was too intrigued to stick to them. Anna was opening a whole new treasure chest that I never even knew existed. Her mother’s past, which I’d never really considered before, brought on a slew of explanations for why Anna is the way she is, and the impact her mother had on her.
I’m still not done interviewing Anna. Each question I ask fills in another plot hole, another blank, and I’m really loving how connected I feel to her now. I’m beginning to understand her on a far deeper level, and the effect it’s having on the story is truly amazing.