It pays to have a frank talk with friends. The same goes for characters in your story.
In the imagination, seat a character across from you at the table, beside you on the bus, or wherever. Then chat.
If your character really is a character, and not just a bunch of traits, then there’s no telling where the talk may lead.
So take notes. They’ll come in handy later.
Just now, for example, I’m writing the “Bigfoot Tales” stories for young readers, from Darakwon Press in Seoul.
Bigfoot gives a good interview. Even better, he doesn’t mind if you ask a personal question now and then.
Here’s an exchange with him on Seoul’s No. 7 subway line, near Nowon Station:
Guess who else is riding.
Me: Mind if I bring up a delicate subject?
Bigfoot: Go ahead. Thick skin is a Bigfoot trait.
Me: Someone your size needs a lot of food. Where do you get protein? You need meat now and then. What — or whom — do you eat?
Bigfoot: Fish, mostly. My home is near the shore. And nothing tastes better than salmon.
Me: No ethical conflicts, then?
Bigfoot: No. Fish live in the sea. It’s outside my jurisdiction.
Bigfoot: As sheriff, I’m responsible only for the forest. Of course, I wouldn’t eat anyone there. Still, that rule is flexible.
Me: How do you mean?
Bigfoot: My friend the Great Owl eats snakes. But they have a bad reputation anyhow, so I look the other way. Who’s going to miss a snake here and there?
Me: You’re the sheriff. Does anyone ever try to bribe you?
Bigfoot: With what? I’ve got a good home, a great family, and enough to eat. What more could I want?
(Laughter like nearby thunder.)
Bigfoot: Land isn’t mine to own. I just happen to live on one piece of it. Your people are the ownership freaks. Remember?
Me: Humans aren’t greedy for land. We just want what’s next to ours.
… And so forth. No other passengers know they’re riding with a thoughtful, articulate, imaginary giant who hurls 5-kilogram rocks around like marbles and must bend over to get in the subway car.
As we get off the train, Bigfoot asks:
“I’m in the mood for fish and chips. Can you get that here?”
(c) 2012 David Ritchie
David Ritchie posts from Seoul, Korea. He is working on a third volume in the “Bigfoot Tales” series, in which an old opponent plots revenge on the Bigfoot family.