Writing Tip of the Week: Play the ‘Hot Seat’ Game

Lately I’m all about the characters. Making them relatable, round, interesting, the works. Last week I posted a link to the Proust Questionnaire (which if you haven’t done it yet, I suggest you take a look now), but this week I have a little game for you to try. It’s called the ‘Hot Seat’ game and it’s an exercise used by many actors to get into the minds of the characters they are going to portray.
It’s fairly easy, but you may need a friend to help you out as your interviewer. As your character, answer a list of questions as you feel they would. This can be like an actual job interview or simple questions like in the Proust Questionnaire. It’s really up to you and what you need/want to get out of it.
The trick is to really make sure you’re answering like your character would. If you aren’t sure what they would say, pass on the question for now. Don’t answer until you can answer honestly. You should be able to answer faster and more accurately the more you know your character. Try to speak as they would, too. Are they excitable? Disinterested? Snobby? Those traits will change how they talk in addition to what they say. Have a friend ask you the questions and take an honest score of yourself when you’re through.

Here are a couple questions to get you started:

1) What do you do for a living? Do you enjoy it? What would make it better?
2) What do you hope to accomplish in your life?
3) What do you want people to say about you when you die? Who would you want to speak at your funeral?
4) What is your goal at work? In life? What do you desire most above everything else at this very moment in time?
5) What do you like to eat? Would you rather go out or stay in?
6) Are you a morning or night person? Do you sleep well?
7) What is your daily routine? Do you like consistency or spontaneity?
8) Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you wish it was the other way around?
9) What did you want to be as a child? How close are you to that? Do you still want that or something totally different?
10) Do you like children? Do you like old people? Which would you rather work with if you had to choose (think teacher vs. nursing home)?
That should get you started for now, but feel free to add, delete, or change any questions. Have your friend ask you some curveball questions, too. When you’re done, see if they find your character interesting or kind of flat. After all, they’ll be the one reading your published book one day.
[Follow me at @tclem91 on Twitter.]
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