It had been suggested during my time in the MFA program at Lesley that I might want to consider doing some “character interviews” to refine the less fully developed players on my novel’s stage. Character interviews involve the author answering a set of pre-defined questions in the voice of the character, the idea being that, even if you come up with an excess of information, much of which will never be seen on the page, you will have a far greater sense of who each character is, enabling you to breathe a substantial amount of life into each of them wherever they might pop up.
In theory, this was a brilliant idea. In practice, however, it simply didn’t make sense. Given the constant deadlines inherent in an MFA program, there is little time to squander on tasks whose end results are not pages that can be turned in. All the research in the world, all the character interviews you might see fit to conduct—none of them mean anything if you can’t produce the ten to twenty-five pages of writing you are required to submit each month.
So, I didn’t do any character interviews and the novel still turned out all right. But I knew that, going forward, that type of research would be invaluable during the revision process.
Which is why I haven’t been beating myself up all that much this week for not writing. Because, finally, with no deadlines on the horizon save my own self-imposed ones, I am able to sit down and consider each of my characters in a much deeper way. I haven’t actually pulled out the pen and paper and conducted interviews yet, but I have kept the radio down on my rides home at night, thinking over the backgrounds of supporting cast members whose life stories I had yet to consider in any real way.
The result is that I feel my story growing richer and richer by the day. I feel as if I am filling myself up again with material, so that, when I am ready to write, it will come pouring out just as it has done in the past.