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Characterized Through Stereoscopy

I often start by imagining the character as a physical and psychological object, and then imagining how that object appears to other people in the drama, including me. Then I start adding detail to justify or confound those assumptions. Then I go deeper, to see if I can discover an interior landscape that challenges the exterior one—in other words, how the character appears to him or herself. Then I invent a personal or family or romantic history that explains, or at least resonates with, those differences. Character motivation derives out of that process; it’s not what I start with. But if everyone in the story knows the same things about a character, or imagines him or her in the same way as the author does, and there’s no gap between what the character perceives and what the reader perceives, there’s usually a problem.

—Paul Park, in an interview.

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