Character Interviews

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The following text is based upon a guest post contributed by T. R. Robinson to the Library of Erana blog.

 

 

Just to clarify: Character interviews are interviews with the primarily fictional protagonists and characters in a story. Of course, these may also be conducted with ‘real’ characters but where a book has real characters it is normal for the book to be biographical meaning their life story will, in the majority of instances, already form part of the tale.

Character interviews are not frequently encountered. Though there have been one or two elsewhere, the majority the writer has come across have been in the Library of Erana blog. Initially these were deemed to be silly and pointless and were consequently skimmed over. Not a usual habit but may have been the result of time pressures and deadlines to meet. Later, upon further examination, having come across a further steady flow of these interviews, their validity was contemplated. They were subsequently given more attention.

The question did occur about who these interviews were for? The reader or the author? The conclusion? Probably for both. The following considers the value of such interviews from both perspectives.

The Reader

Of what interest are character interviews to readers?

  • Entertaining. (Perhaps with the exception of some self-help or scientific books, the majority of readers are looking to be entertained.)
  • Enhancing. (Usually provide further idea of the character’s true nature, aims and goals.)
  • Informative. (Provide some backstory details which will enhance the eventual read. Assuming they do go on to read the book the character is in.)
  • Intriguing. (Build interest in and expectations for a story.)

The Author

What benefits do character interviews provide for authors?

  • Display writing skill. (Readers do not readily pick up books by unknown authors. These free interviews provide them with an idea of what they could expect from the author’s books.)
  • Avoid ‘padding’. (Able to fill-out character personalities with additional information that would not fit or be appropriate to include in the primary manuscript.)
  • Know characters. (Authors are advised, for best results, to fully know their charters by writing biographies. Interviews go part way, probably a long way, toward this aim.)
  • Refreshed mind. (Continuous writing on the same theme can lead to fatigue and some degree of stagnation. Writing something different usually breaks the trend.)
  • Marketing/Publicity. (Done right, interviews may set a story’s scene and create intrigue and interest in it.)

Of course, the above are by no means the full extent of what readers and authors may gain from these interviews. Everyone is different.

Conclusion

Character interviews do have their place in the reading world:

For the author it is an opportunity to intrigue and add some backstory that may not be appropriate for inclusion in the primary text of the book.

For the reader they enhance and fill out who the character is; help them decide beforehand if the book is one they will be interested in; enable them to learn about the author’s writing style.

Authors and readers are encouraged to read and take note of any character interviews they come across. They can be fun as well as informative.

Authors: Remember in most instances these interviews are primarily suitable for fictional characters. When writing about real people the information that would emerge through an interview should, in the majority of instances, be drawn out within the story.

The original guest post may be viewed here.


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