|Harry seeing his parents in the Mirror of Erised|
My youngest, who's nearly six, has a full-blown Harry Potter obsession. Most of it is channeled via Lego, but there is also dressing up like the boy wizard and now writing his own version of the first few books: it's preschool Harry Potter fanfic!
(This is my third go-around through J.K. Rowling's series with each of my children. Each time I marvel at what a storyteller she is. What an imagination to come up with all those characters, quirky spells, Quidditch... the list goes on.)
Anyway, youngest was drawing his pictures and I was taking dictation. The page we were working on was about the Mirror of Erised (Desire backwards) in which characters can see what they most desire. For Harry, it's his dead parents; for Ron, it's being Head Boy and Quidditch captain--the desire of a younger sibling to escape from the shadows of his older brothers. For Dumbledore--well, Dumbledore claims he sees a pair of socks. But you can never quite trust that Dumbledore, can you?
As my young artist explained all this, I had a flash of inspiration. Often, it takes me a whole first draft to figure out what a character truly desires. What if, right at the beginning of the process, I wheeled in their very own Mirror of Erised, sat them before it, and asked them to tell me what they saw?
There's something about this technique--sort of like interviewing your characters--that appeals to me. I think I'll try it the next novel I write. I'll let you know how it goes!
What techniques (or tricks!) do you use to excavate your character's desires?
(P.s. I'm reviewing New Zealand author Susan Brocker's historical MG novel, The Drover's Quest--which I loved--on Project Mayhem today. If you want to win a copy, head on over.)