Monday, March 3, 2014

Everyone Has a Story

A month or so ago, my husband and I tore through Season 1 of Orange is the New Black, a Netflix original show. You guys . . . WOW. Just wow. In case you’re not familiar with it, OitNB follows the main character, Piper, after she’s sent to prison for the decade-old crime of transporting money for her drug-dealing girlfriend (via IMDB). However, Piper is (obviously) not the only person in this prison. It’s filled with plenty of other women—women who have stories of their own.

The show is awesome in that it incorporates flashbacks to tell the backstory of each character, showing us the “before”—before that character made a choice that changed her life. As writers, our characters are the same. Each one has a story of his/her own. They make their own mistakes, their own choices. Some of those choices are terrible. Some are life-altering. But the fact is, those choices are what breathe life into our characters. And, good or bad, each character is the hero of his/her own story.

I mentioned this idea in a previous post, but I love “interviewing” my characters, or even just taking a piece of paper and writing down every mundane detail I can think of. Here are a few questions that I make it a point to answer:

-What is this character’s dream?
-Who does this character love the most?
-What’s this character’s biggest regret?

And my favorite:

-What would it kill this character to lose?


  1. Those are awesome questions to better understand character motivations. I love the idea of interviewing them! And that last one. Greatness. :)

  2. Yes, love those questions. :) Getting to know characters is one of my favorite parts of writing. I need to check out OitNB. (flashback to NKOTB) I liked LOST, and they did that kind of storytelling.

  3. I LOVE that last question, especially! And you're so right, everyone has a story and every character should as well.