Interviewing Characters

I always know an assortment of details about my characters, but I have not in the habit of actually interviewing them. As I worked through my current project, I discovered when I answered K.M. Weiland’s Question of the Day on Twitter I learned facts about my characters I had not considered. Those facts helped me improve my presentation of those characters. That has prompted me to enhance my writing process by doing more character interviews.

Following are examples of questions that improved my story.

What are some of your protagonist’s idiosyncrasies?

Patrick’s friend had given him a chess piece, a knight, on his ninth birthday because all he ever talked about was becoming a dragon-slayer knight. Carved from fine marble, the piece had always been shiny and silky, but it was even more so now after years of him fidgeting with it, spinning it in his fingers, and rubbing his thumb on it when he sank into deep thought as he strategized.

What makes your protagonist laugh?

Patrick tends to be impassive, stoic, disciplined, and affects an austere manner. However, he’s not above enjoying satire, parody, hyperbole, and irony even at inappropriate moments. When his friend says she has nightmares, he tells her his warhorse’s name is Knight-Mare. He has to apologize because she thought he was mocking her.

What is the worst thing your protagonist has ever done?

In all the years Patrick had been a dragon-slayer knight, he had fought many dragons, wounded several, and drove them away from the human lands, but he had never killed a dragon. But when he fights his most recent dragon, and severely wounds her, almost mortally, he realizes what he does is wrong. The worst thing he had ever done was become who he is.

My Favorite 2020 Reads

Among my favorite reads during 2020 (not necessarily published in 2020) are the following books.

  • Dragonslayer (Wings of Fire: Legends #2) by Tui T. Sutherland
  • Spark by Sarah Beth Durst (this was a re-read after having read it in 2019 because I really liked the book)
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  • Cities: The First 6,000 Years by Monica L. Smith
  • Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA by Neil Shubin
  • Don’t Believe a Word: The Surprising Truth About Language by David Shariatmadari
Book covers for Dragonslayer, Spark, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, The Three-Body Problem, Cities, Some Assembly Required, and Don't Believe a Word.
Book covers for Dragonslayer, Spark, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, The Three-Body Problem, Cities, Some Assembly Required, and Don’t Believe a Word.

Dragon Ornaments

Dragon Ornaments
by Lester D. Crawford

I love my Christmas gift: dragon ornaments that can be brought to life by speaking a spell. I selected the most fearsome looking ornament to try.

The instructions said a perfect accent must speak the spell or the spell will fade. I gave it my best.

The ornament came to life as a huge, fire breathing dragon that roared, opened its jaws, and lunged for me. As its jaws closed, the spell faded returning the dragon to being an ornament.

I’ll practice my accent while changing my pants and then try again, this time selecting the most benign looking ornament.

This is my 100-word Christmas story for 2020.

Stories submitted by other writers are here: Advent Ghosts 2020: The Stories.

Years ago, I was inspired to attempt writing a 100-word Christmas story by Loren Eaton of the I Saw Lightning Fall blog. I tend toward long stories, so a 100-word story seemed like something I might not be able to do. I began typing, finished the story, and had exactly 100-words. I was surprised I did it first try. (Read it here. Click 100-word Christmas Stories to see all of them. Some are better than others, but they were all fun to write.) Now, every year, I write a 100-word Christmas story. It’s always fun.