Friday, November 16, 2007

About my character

Banana slug
This character makes a brief appearance in my novel.

I saw a checklist of how to evaluate a character in a children's book in The Writer magazine and I decided to answer it in order to see how well I was doing in making a believable person out of mere words and imagination. The checklist reminds me of one of those personal interviews they do in magazines: "What is your favorite comfort food?", "What are you reading right now?" and so forth. A year ago I posted my own version of my answers to a celebrity interview which you can read here.
I decided to print some of the question and answer about my character, Joseph. I will post this in two parts because there are 19 questions and it will run too long. Here goes:
1. What best describes the character's most outstanding physical feature?
He is small for his age and looks mixed race. I wonder if he should describe what he sees in the mirror while cutting his hair. He has dark eyes, medium dark skin, straight thick hair which is slightly wavy and which he thinks makes him look girlish when too long.
2. Does the character like himself? He's never bothered to give this any thought (although his therapists have asked him questions about his self esteem).
3. What is his immediate goal? What is his long-term goal?
To live in the woods and "get out of the system."
He won't figure out more about what he wants to do when he grows up until the end of the story.
4. What is the best thing that has happened to him so far? Getting a cat and making a couple of friends.
What is the worst? Near drowning and getting sick.
5. How is the character seen by himself? By others? I've described this in an entry in the novel so I won't go into it here. In short, he sees himself as tough, wary, slow to trust. He doesn't let people get too close to him.
6. Who has influenced the character the most? How? The character is notable for not having strong adult influences on his life. This is part of what has shaped him. There was a couple he nicknamed the "Gnomes" that were candidates but faded out of his life too soon.
7. What are the character's strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths: brave, smart, resourceful
Weaknesses: emotionally disconnected from others

I'll stop here for now. The good news is I had answers for all the questions already in my mind which gives me hope my character will be believable. The other good news is I got a few ideas from filling out this checklist. I had already decided I needed to flesh out the character's personality a little bit. Thanks to the author of the article, Jane Choate, for some good pointers.

By the way, I'm at 33114 words and 55 pages.

1 comment:

j.white said...

That's a very useful questionnaire.

I like it a lot.

Thank you.