Have you ever thought about putting your main characters under quarantine? Not because of illness, but simply to isolate him/her from other characters while learning about them.
It’s easier to unearth the emotional and motivational stuff that’s hidden deep inside our characters for the purpose of crafting a better story. Imagine you have your character in a private room, free of distraction and that he/she is relaxed and open to a frank discussion.
If, for example, your book has romantic overtones, there are some questions that would be important to ask. (For the sake of this exercise, the main character will be A and the secondary ones will be Character B, and so on.)
· How does Character A feel about Character B?
· Does A know why he feels this way about B?
· What, if anything, would change A’s feelings about B?
· Does B have any character traits that A can’t stand?
· How does A feel about being in a long term relationship with B?
· How would A feel if he never saw B again?
· How does being with B affect A’s behaviour?
· How does A’s relationship with B make him feel about himself?
· Does A recognize how his attitude changes toward other characters as the story progresses?
· Ask yourself whether the storyline improves/falters if you add/remove secondary characters.
Bear in mind that the answers to the questions above may surprise you and can send the story sailing into uncharted waters. However, I think it is important to explore in several directions as the answers you get may open up fascinating plot lines, or perhaps the information that’s revealed can be used in another novel.
What other questions can you think of to ask your character/s about their relationship with other people in your story?