Originally published 2016-03-15: Letting Characters Speak | Teaser Tuesday Guest Post by B. Lynn Goodwin
I love featuring writers on my blog. Writing a guest post is a lot different than writing a post for your own blog, so I think that allowing authors a space on my blog gives them a chance to speak for a different side of the story to what we might normally get.
This month, I have the managing editor of Writer Advice, author B. Lynn Goodwin, interviewing the main character in her new book, Talent, the story of a girl who is trying to find her way and her place in the world. Without any further introduction, here’s Lynn.
Letting Characters Speak
Years ago when I was writing a series of articles for Dramatics Magazine, I invented Sandee Mason. The articles described a series of drama exercises, and were written in Sandee’s journal. They were written in the voice of a fifteen-year-old drama student seeking her talent.
Back then Sandee wanted recognition for her talent, even though she didn’t know what it was. She was in Beginning Drama, and she had big dreams. She wanted recognition, and she also wanted a boyfriend—like so many other fifteen-year-olds.
She’s got two more goals now: She wants her driver’s license. More importantly, though, she wants to stop living in the shadow of her big brother, who disappeared while serving in Afghanistan.
This interview takes place fairly early in the story.
BLG: Tell us a little about yourself, Sandee.
SM: I’m 15 and a half, and I’m a sophomore at San Ramos High. Ummm…
BLG: What do you like to do?
SM: You know. The usual.
SM: Okay, I like to take pictures, but I haven’t done it in a while. I like to go to the beach when it’s warm enough and Tahoe when there’s snow. I like to go out for coffee. I can’t wait to drive, so I practice every chance I get.
BLG: Sandee, I hear you’ve taken over as props manager for Oklahoma! Do you have any tips for high school students about managing their time?
SM: Ummm… just do it? I was sitting around too much as the ASM. That’s Assistant Stage Manager, in case you don’t know. I wanted to be doing something, and when I’m doing props, there’s no one to boss me around. I like being trusted.
BLG: I hear you wanted a role in the show. Do many sophomores get roles?
SM: (shaking her head) Not really.
BLG: Why do you think Mrs. G gave you two jobs to do?
SM: I hadn’t really thought about it. Ummm… I guess she trusts me? You never know with teachers though. Maybe she feels sorry for me.
BLG: Why would she feel sorry for you?
SM: ‘Cause my brother’s missing. Everybody got real awkward around me when the news came out. Can you believe it was written up in the San Ramos Patch and then Jenn started writing about it on Facebook and…like… the whole world knew? (Shakes her head) Some of the teachers give me extensions on my work and stuff. They try to be nice. But really, I think Mrs. G trusts me cause I’ve never been late with an assignment in drama class.
BLG: Forgive me if this is too personal, but do you have a boyfriend?
SM: Ummm… it’s complicated? Isn’t that what grown ups say when you like somebody and they like somebody else and then this other guy makes you feel kinda creepy and sleazy?
BLG: I think that’s a very good answer. What would you like high school students to know?
SM: So many things. I wanna to say be happy now but I also wanna say plan for the future. Most of us will have one. Know who your friends are. Figure out who to trust. Don’t take responsibility for things that aren’t your fault.
BLG: Great answer. Anything else you want to say?
SM: If you want to read my story, it’s written down in TALENT. I wouldn’t let just anyone interview me, but BLG is my author, so she already knows a lot about me.
One of the best ways to get to know your character is to interview her or him. What did you learn about Sandee in the interview? What did you figure out about her author? Were the two voices different?
Interviews are great fun and an excellent way to find out more about major and minor characters. Ask whatever is on your mind. Let the character speak. Hear both voices in your head.
If you can’t hear it, try sitting in the character’s posture. Or ask for an acting exercise that will help you get into your character physically. You can go to http://blynngoodwin.com/, and leave your request there.
You can also find out more about this technique in TALENT, when Mrs. G uses it with her student actors. You’ll be amazed at the results.
About B. Lynn Goodwin
B. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice, and the author of both You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing), and TALENT(Eternal Press). Her blog is at http://blynngoodwin.com/. Goodwin’s stories and articles have been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; The Sun; Good Housekeeping.com and many other venues. She is currently working on a memoir about getting married for the first time at age 62.
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