When you write from the Q and A style, you are giving a more objective approach by letting the interviewee speak for herself. To keep this type sharp and informational, pose short questions that are interesting, perhaps even reflecting your style of speaking. Their answers will be written using their exact words—no paraphrasing allowed, but you can edit out any ramblings or extra filler words, like, “you know.”
Both formats will need an introductory paragraph. This is where you explain to your readers who is being interviewed, and why, when, and where. Tell them your goal for the interview –that will become your thesis statement—and what topics you will be covering. Include in this paragraph a few sentences that describe your setting—if you are in an environment that is familiar to your subject, this description will start revealing who this person is. Physically describe your interviewee: what does she look like, what she is wearing, what spills out of her purse, what mannerisms she tends to exhibit. This will be another important, unspoken layer to your portrayal.
Keeping your thesis and the topics you want to cover in mind, start crafting the body of your written interview. Use your chosen topics as subheadings; then place supporting quotes and stories that fit under each heading. This will provide a necessary structure to your article and help you plan the transitions to get you from one topic to the next.
Incorporating quotes into your text can sometimes be awkward. Using the words, “Freda says, ‘…’” all the time is a bit monotonous. Varying your conversational tags is crucial for an interview essay. Here is an informative resource that I often use that will hopefully be helpful to you in the area of integrating quotes into your text: Transitions to Incorporate Quotations or Paraphrases.
The best interviews will reveal something new about your subject. As you draw the article to a close, your concluding paragraph should refer back to any disclosure that proves interesting, provocative, or newsworthy. If your interviewee reveals future plans, place them in the conclusion. Save their snappiest quote for the ending: this is a great way to leave your readers remembering the person you selected to interview.
READERS: Did you take the Interview Challenge? If you did, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will publish it on this blog and we can all enjoy getting to know someone new!