Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Intake Interview Part 1

I have always found it amazing at the number of people there are in this world and yet you will never find two that are exactly alike. Even identical twins have differences. I look at my own sisters and see how different they are. Many people would ask me how can you tell them apart and I would always reply how can you not tell them apart. They move different they act different they sound different their behaviors are different. Even though they are identical twins they are still different.

Our characters must also be different. They must feel different to the reader. This can be done in many different ways. How they talk, mannerisms that they have, how they look, how they act in certain situations. It is very important that we get inside their heads that we know them inside and out so that when we put them down on paper they are still alive that they are not just one dimensional but become multidimensional.

When I counsel I always start with an intake. This is where I find out everything about the person. I find out about their medical history, their family history, their mental illness history, anything that has anything to do with the person. Were they pre-mature, how was the pregnancy, was the mom on drugs the list goes on. We need to setup an intake session with our characters to find out their inner workings then write up our findings. What are their strengths their weaknesses. Can we diagnose them with any personality disorders or mental illness?

Get to know your character better than you know yourself (I wouldn’t recommend getting to know yourself this well it may cause problems). When we really know our characters then we will know how to write about them.


  1. I LOVE doing this! I write down as much as I can and I add to it as the situations I write about make me decide how they would act in them. I love the meshing of personalities and the relationships that do or do not develop because of the inner workings of each character. I absolutely love the Psychology of it all! I like the idea of doing an "interview" with my characters and "taking notes" on what they have to say. :)

  2. By the way, one of my favorite Bloggers (Single Dad Laughing) has a new blog about writing a "big blog." One of his most intriguing (to me!) perks was that publishers like it if you already have a great following. If you have the time, you should totally "go big" because you are very talented and I would love to see you succeed!! :D

  3. Very good idea. It is frustrating when a character in a book doesn't act the way I expect them to.

  4. I am always irritated when I read a book that has identical twins that are identical in every way. I have known several sets of identical twins and it is true what you said, Josh. They aren't identical except in appearances.

    As authors we need to make sure that even our "non-identical" twin characters don't have this problem. We have to make sure that the readers can tell everyone apart in personality not just by name and appearance. I love your technique.

    --Spoiler Alert-- (Because I would hate it if I ruined this for someone.)
    In Harry Potter, I have a difficult time telling Fred and George apart. I want you all to do a test. Ask anyone which one dies in the end and 70% of the time they will say "It was _________. Right?" They aren't even certain about it. There is something innately wrong with that.

  5. You are so right with the Harry Potter thought. When the reader can't even tell which one of our readers die we have a problem (:


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