3 Ways to Coax Secrets out of Your Characters

 

Marvin Whickpucket refuses to behave. When you want him to defeat the evil Onchnu, he won’t. Instead, he sits on the couch, surfs cable and eats potato skins.

Sad Marvin (147x200)

“This is boring!” you tell him. “Why are you acting this way?”

“I miss Ilandra,” he says. “We had a fight. She said we were through.”

“Why didn’t you TELL me?” you say, incredulous.

Marvin shrugs. “You never asked.”

~

For nine years of Teenage Novelist classes, Marvin Whickpucket has been a sort of poster boy. (If you’ve attended, you understand references to the evil Onchnu.) And if you’re a TEENWriter, you are accustomed to talking to your characters, even if your family doesn’t quite understand.

Here are a few ways to get Marvin to talk back:

1)  Text him. He may be snarky with his initial replies, but let the conversation roll and he’ll be more forthcoming.

Marvin, what was the fight about?

Never mind.

I’m asking because I care.

Sure, you do.

Cross my heart.

It’s stupid.

I won’t tell.

Isn’t that what you do? Tell people every blessed thing I say?

Come on. It’ll help to talk about it.

Fine. Ilandra hates my waffles. Waffles are what brought us together, but it turns out she hates the ones I make.

You got your feelings hurt?

Yes. Okay? After jumping through space-time portals for 150 years, we broke up over a waffle.

Wow. That’s…really sad, Marvin.

Pathetic. I don’t know what to do.

…and so on.

2) Ask him to write you a letter that begins, “I have never told you, but…”

Dear Katherine,

I have never told you, but Ilandra is not what you think. 152 years ago, when I first encountered the Kleeg battalions, I faced a young, beautiful general. Yes, it’s true. Ilandra is a Kleeg. Her father destroyed my planet. But once she offered me waffles, I couldn’t resist her charms…

3) Become Marvin. He must have a favorite shirt. A hat. A Tri-Millenium-412 blaster. Put these things on. Find fellow writers who are willing to bring to life characters from their own books. Gather in your backyard or in a park or at EpicWrite, and create a story together. Then, go out for waffles.

4) Join us in Snohomish July 29-August 2 for “Talking to Your Characters.” Learn how to deepen your story by listening to your characters.  Each class allows for hands-on exercises based on your work-in-progress and time for group critique.