Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Getting to Know Kate

This interview is dedicated to Harold Underdown and Ann Manheimer, who have pushed me to figure out what my main character in Half-Truths wants.  
As I read novels I try to uncover what the characters want and the obstacles that get in their way.  In a well-written book this tension between goal and satisfaction of that goal drives the story and keep readers rooting for the main character's success. 

A few days ago, in an attempt to solidify what my main character, Anna Katherine Dinsmore wants, I decided to interview her. Here is what she told me.

CAROL: What do you want, Kate?

KATE: I want my grandmother to like me. To stop bugging me. To leave me alone and let me be myself.


KATE: Because she gets on my nerves. She makes me feel like I’m not good enough the way I am.

CAROL:  There’s got to be more to it than that.  Did you ever feel loved by anyone?

KATE: In Cheraw. Auntie always made me feel safe. Selena liked me. The goats did too. But they would like anyone who fed them and rubbed their heads. Dolly was sort of partial to me though.

CAROL: What else do you want?

KATE: I am lonely and would like a friend. To feel like I belong somewhere. I belonged on the farm in Cheraw. Now I don’t. I’ve told you. In Myers Park I feel like a cornstalk in a rose garden.

CAROL: Anything else?

KATE: I want to go home and have Daddy there and feel safe again.

CAROL: I didn’t know that. So, is this book going to be about you trying to get back to Cheraw?

KATE: No, I don’t think so. I also want to be able to speak my mind. Does that count?
CAROL: You’re cheating. You must have read the book!

KATE: Come on. I want honesty, a friend, to feel safe and accepted.  What do these all have in common?  

CAROL: Hey, I thought I was asking the questions! These are all internal struggles. What about some external struggles? You know, “public stakes.”

KATE: Having a friend so I’m not lonely is public. I might have to take some risks to prove to that person that we can be friends.  And I’d also love to get back at Grandmother for how she treats Mama and to tell her to stuff it! That’s pretty public!

CAROL:  I would say so.
After this interview, I took out a copy of my reproducible, Create a Character, and filled it out. This also gave me more insights into Kate, her longings, and her personality.

If you are writing fiction, feel free to download this reproducible. That's how I found out that Kate wants to get even with her grandmother. Other interesting tidbits came out including how she is embarrassed about the pimples on her forehead, her changing body, and her smelly feet. 

I don't know where Kate is taking me, but I think I'll go along for the ride. Meanwhile, here are two Norman Rockwell pictures that have
helped me to picture Kate as I write her story. The first one is how I picture Kate at about 10, the second when she is 13. 

Girl with Black Eye, 1953

Girl at the Mirror,  1954



Happy walker said...

walking here with a smile.. have a nice day ~ =D

http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

Deborah said...

Very interesting. She sounds like a typical tweenager growing into a youg lady. Enjoyed the interview.

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Wow! I can really hear her voice here. That is awesome. Makes me think I need to interview my character again!

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks friends, for visiting my blog. Joyce I was thinking of how you had used my reproducibles with your characters--and I never have!

Linda A. said...


Thanks for sharing the character sheet and the interesting interview. What a great way to get other writers to try it too.

Linda A.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda! I've heard how great this can be--but it wasn't until I did it myself that I realized how powerful an exercise it can be!

miriam said...

I just love this interview, Carol. It sounds like you are really taking the time to get to know your character. Time for me to try the technique as well- maybe it will help with the voice issues I'm having! Thanks for posting, and I can't wait to read your finished manuscript!

Anonymous said...

For the record, I grew up about 20 minutes from Cheraw, SC. It's a lovely place.

Sounds like a great character to me. I'm looking forward to hearing more about her!

UPSIDE DOWN MAGIC- Part I by Guest Blogger, Elliott Kurta

Please welcome back Elliott Kurta with his evaluation of an 8-book series by Sarah Mlynoski, Lauren Myracle , and Emily Jenkins.          R...