5/9/07 — Been working the last three days on STORM MOUNTAIN, particularly as it relates to the main character, Ben, and how he changes /grows during the course of the story. In “writer talk”, this change/growth is called the character arc. To help me clarify Ben’s character arc I went back to a Character Profile I’ve developed over the years. It is 13 pages of questions I ask myself about a character. The first two pages are for general external info — age, gender, ethnicity, etc — and physical description — height, weight, hair color, unique facial features, characteristic gestures, what distinguishes him or her in a crowd. The next 11 pages are the real meat, in that they deal with what the character is like on the inside — personal attributes, likes and dislikes, wishes, dreams, beliefs, attitudes. By the time I’m done I have a very good feel for who the character is, what makes them tick, and how they are going to act/react in a given situation.
This may seem like a lot of trouble to go to, and it does take time, especially if you were to make it all up, create the character from scratch. So I don’t. Instead, I pretend I’m going to make a movie of my story, then look around to see who might best take the leading roles in it. (No Hollywood stars allowed, only people I know.) I’ll actually interview that person, which is fun and highly revealing, and then let them act out the part in my imagination. I did this with Ben, and feel much better prepared to continue with the rewrite.