Our local boards got together this past Saturday for our quarterly area board meeting. Several of us joked about these themes each month and remarked about our post days falling later in the month. What if all the topics were taken by the time it was our turn? Then, what would we write about?

I’m thankful this topic is so broad and so many different topics can branch off from it. Today, I’m focusing on a way you can flesh out any character and discover some amazing tidbits that will not only liven up your writing but will help your reader connect to your characters in ways you never imagined.

There are times when I joke with others I see or meet and say, “Be careful what you say. I might put you in a book.” 🙂 That comes from the fact that I often compile my characters from composites of people I know or have met at one time or another. I’m careful to not make any one character exactly like one person. Sort of like the “names have been changed to protect the innocent” clause. 🙂 But, that’s just one way I develop my characters.

A good friend and mentor, Tracie Peterson, once provided me with a long list of 100 interview questions that can be asked of any character. The first time I utilized this list, I was amazed at what I discovered of my characters. There were some surprising tidbits in their backgrounds that explained why they did or said what they did and why they reacted in certain manners.

Here are just some of those questions:

1. CHARACTER NAME AND MEANING:
2. BIRTHDAY AND AGE:
3. HAIR COLOR:
4. HAIR STYLE:
5. EYE COLOR:
6. FACIAL FEATURES:
7. BODY TYPE:
8. DISTINGUISHING BODY FEATURES:
9. TYPE OF CLOTHES MOST OFTEN WORN:
10. PET PEEVES ABOUT APPEARANCE:
11. BODY FEATURES THAT BOOST CONFIDENCE:
12. THING PEOPLE GENERALLY NOTICE FIRST ABOUT

There are 88 other questions about their jobs, family, friends, place of work, place of birth, school records, and so much more.

This questionnaire has really helped me make my characters more real to me and my readers. After all, people connect with people. The same goes for readers connecting with a book. It’s more than just the story. The people living that story have to be real too.

Now, it’s your turn. What tips or tricks do YOU use to make your characters come alive?


Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author, online marketing specialist and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart. They have 1 daughter and a border collie. She has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing, is a columnist for the ACFW e-zine and writes other articles as well. Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.

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