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The writer's interview: Editor's Notes #148
June 30, 2013

Every deep story involves a subjective person
slamming into an objective world.

--Jon Franklin

In this issue:

1. The writer's interview
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site

1. The writer's interview
If your book involves characters, the more you know about those characters -- real or imagined -- the better your book is likely to be.

The Jon Franklin quote that opens this issue speaks of "deep story." If a deep story is the goal, we want to find what in the subjective person slams into what in the objective world. That provides us with plot and subplot as well as ideas for character development.

To find the subjective person at a deep level, conduct an interview. Ask questions that will get you deep answers, then listen, listen, listen.

Here is a list of questions to ask both fictional and real life characters in a writer's interview. Remember to record your answers.

  • What is your birth order?
  • What is your first memory?
  • What did you want most as a child? Did you get it? Then what happened?
  • Tell me about your family traditions/holidays.
  • How did your family handle crises?
  • Tell me about your time at school.
  • Tell me about your jobs.
  • Where have you lived?
  • When did your life change?
  • What do you see as your greatest challenge?

The list is only a guide. The point is to get your character talking to you or to get you to research as deeply as possible if you don't have access to someone living or dead.

If you are writing fiction, you will both ask and answer the questions. You may want to skip the interview because it may feel unreal to take both roles. Take the plunge. I believe your work will be deeper as a result.


2.Tickled my funnybone
Recipe typo: Stew for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, their juice and the sock.


3. Interesting Web site
See my article for an adapted list of Proust's Questions as another example of questions you might ask of a character (or yourself).

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