What do you mean by challenge inconsistencies?
Simon Green asked: Can you talk a bit more about some examples of inconsistencies? I like the idea of bringing up the "tough" questions, but I'm not sure if that's what you mean by inconsistencies ... And I'm also not sure if inconsistency-related questions might be received as offensive, and sour the conversation... For example, what if you were interviewing a gifted medical researcher, but wanted to challenge if the research was leading to noteworthy results or not?
I'll start with a really clear example from Patrick's experience, before coming back to comment on what looking for inconsistencies means in the end.
So P was sitting in the living room with Chris Darwin, the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin. Chris shared an incredible journey of being a huge ad executive, having no purpose, attempting suicide, and then his search for meaning. He then comes to wanting to prevent the mass extinction of species as his cause, as his life's work. He thought he came to it naturally, that anybody in his shoes might have come to the same conclusion.
Next to him was sitting Charles Darwin's autobiography. In it, Charles said (and I'm paraphrasing), "I have little regrets for what I have done in my life. I do however often regret how little I was able to do for my fellow creatures."
See the inconsistency? It's super obvious here, but for Chris Darwin, he didn't see it at first. He wouldn't have readily told us the connection between his great-great-grandfather and his life's work.
So as the storyteller, we could have told the story how Chris saw it. Or we could look deeper, find inconsistencies between his family heritage, between things we know are important to him, and how he came to this truth, and use that to build a much stronger story.
Challenging inconsistencies then is not about asking offensive questions. It's about using your perspective as the storyteller, using all of the research and information that you've gathered, to be able to make connections that your character might not be able to. It's about bringing it to their attention when what you see—and what you've learned—doesn't match with what they're telling you. When you bring that discrepancy to their attention, and allow them to explore it deeper, we hope to get closer to their story's "truth."