Character pt 2

So my last blog post I was talking about characters and how I have one rattling round in my head that I need to get to know a little better.

I’ve done a little bit of work on her since then and I’m trying to work out some depth to her. I’ve set myself the task of writing a conversation between her and an interviewer. The interviewer is unimportant; they are just a means to an end in getting the girl to talk to me.

My other ‘rule’ for this is that I am writing from an external point of view. No describing her thoughts, just her actions and speech. I need a sense of how she reacts to things where she is and what she might say. Think of what follows as an extension of the initial description in the last post.


The interviewer remained seated throughout. Her only movements a hand dashing notes across a yellow-leafed legal pad and a slight incline of the head as she tracked the girl around the room.

‘So why am I here?’ she asked. She had stopped pacing and had fixed her gaze to a defect in the wallpaper pattern. ‘Why do you want to speak to me?’
‘We just want to know a little more about you?’

‘ Why?’

‘ You are interesting and we want to get to talk to you more.’

The girl worried at a piece of dead skin at the edge of her cuticle on her index finger. Face still mostly obscured.

‘I don’t like this,’ she said, biting away the hangnail.

‘I know and I can wait.’

The silence stretched out between them. She started pacing again from the fireplace to the window and back. The interviewer placed her hands in her lap and waited.

‘ When I speak, people don’t get me. They don’t hear what I say. I get misrepresented, how do I know you won’t do that to me?’ She said pausing at the fireplace and straightening a small silver figurine.
‘I will let you read over my notes, you can correct things – make them clearer’.

She stopped and looked at the interviewer for the first time,’Will you listen?’

‘It is what I do best.’

‘Okay,’ she said. She came closer, and stood behind an armchair, her hands kneaded at the fabric like a cat. ‘So what do you want to know?’

‘Start with a name.’

‘You already know that.’

‘Humour me.’

Eyes rolled, ‘I am Martha Coppice.’

‘Take a seat Martha,’ said the interviewer, gesturing towards a series of chairs.
Martha picked the armchair she was standing behind. Sitting in it she drew her legs up underneath her and crossed her arms. She wriggled her shoulders but there was still tension running through them and into her neck.

‘Thank you, now tell me about how you came to be here.’

‘I am here because I am not welcome anywhere else.’ Martha stated, eyes boring into the carpet. ‘I am different, I stick out. The others found me hard work. They didn’t like the way things needed to be, they made it impossible to remain.’

’They chased you off,’ asked the interviewer.

‘Not exactly,’ Martha replied. ‘I don’t like talking about it.’

The interviewer leaned forward and flicked over a page of notes.

‘Okay then, tell me something positive.’

‘Something positive,’ Martha stared upwards as her brain raced to retrieve a memory she might classify as such. ‘That is going to take a while.’


I’m thinking a lot about creating characters at the moment.  I feel like there is someone I want to get to know just hovering beyond my perception.  There are a couple in fact, I’m hoping to tell their stories soon.

My creative process is image based.  Sometimes a single image gives me a character and the story grows from that.  Often the image and idea spark and off I go.

Character is the imperative, I try and give my characters a sense of place and weight.  Details that flesh them out and bring them to life.  There are many stories out there which fail to work because the characters are not driving the action, the plot is imposing stupid choices on the characters.  But that is a whole other post.

Some writers know everything about  their characters, create playlists which can be fun, I tend to write conversations my characters might have, get them to talk to me.  It might sound crazy and I am half convinced a good proportion of writers tend towards crazy.

The girl with flint flecked shale eyes, watched the door. She paced each measured stride an attempt to stifle her need to be anywhere but here. Childish hands fidgetted like a pair of angry birds.  She pushed her thumbnails into the soft pads of her index fingers.  A thick cascade of almost black hair masked most of her expression.

So who is she? I can’t wait to find out.