I was thinking about my novel Laguna the other day wondering if it was the “best” it could be. Will the answer ever be yes? I’m really not convinced it ever will so I continue asking myself that question every now and then.
As I was thinking about my main character, Sarah, I wondered if she had enough depth. In other words, had she changed enough throughout the novel? I’ve heard/read other authors say that a good trick for
getting to know your characters on a deeper level is to interview them. YAWN. The thought of having to come up with questions seems so boooring. Not only that, if I could think of the questions wouldn’t I already know the answers?
Anyways, I came up with a different, and novel changing, idea to help me understand Sarah better. I had Sarah write a letter to her sons explaining why she ran away. I was shocked at what I learned about her as a
woman, about her pain, and I was very shocked a what I learned about how much she had changed.
It seems so funny to be shocked by what is actually coming from my own brain but I couldn’t have found all this out had I interviewed her. I would have been thinking too much about getting the “right answers”. By handwriting a free flowing letter from my main character to the people she loves (and hurt) the most I was really able hear her voice and to sympathize with her not to mention to ultimately see her in a different light.
I was able to go back in to the story and tweak a few lines of dialogue here and some exposition there and all of a sudden, Sarah came to life on the page. Instead of her having my voice of reason, she suddenly had her own. It was like meeting your baby for the first time right after the nurse puts him on your belly and they open that one eye and look at you as if to say, “There you are!”
All I can say is give it a try. Instead of interviewing your MC, have them write a letter to someone else in the story about how or why they did or didn’t do something in your story. It just might help you get your
story to where it needs to be.