My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. I pour it out in a poem to the king, shaping the river into words. (Psalm 45:1)

Welcome to our new blog!

Note that this blog is primarily for members of CWOSA. Only those members who have signed up as authors to the blog are able to post on this site, although all may leave comments.

You may not pass on any posts from this blog without permission of the author, but you may pass on a link if you wish to share something written.

To join CWOSA, you are required to either be a Christian writer or aspiring writer who lives in Southern Africa, or a Southern African Christian writer living overseas. If you qualify and wish to learn more, click on this link.


1. Read the topmost post, then click on "comments".
2. Read the last comment to see the most recent addition to the story.
3. Copy/past the entire story to date into a new comment box.
4. Add a further three words.
5. Click on Comment as. If you are signed in, your name will appear. Click on Publish.
6. If you're not signed in, click the small dropdown arrow, and select Name/URL. Give us the name we know you as, and click on Publish.

Remember! This is meant to be a story!
Have fun!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

How Can You Make Your Characters TALK?

Today  we welcome guest blogger Carrie Lewis.

For over thirty years, Carrie's writing took a backseat to full-time work outside the home and to her small business painting portraits of horses and other animals from across the country.

In 2008, she rediscovered writing and, in late 2009, became a full-time artist, which opened up time each day to pursue writing. She has been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2008.

Her favorite genres are mystery, suspense, and political thriller, with manuscripts in the works in each of those categories. She also is an active crit partner for other authors, both published and unpublished.

Carrie’s writing blog can be found at Her art website and blog is

How Can You Make Your Characters TALK?

How do you get acquainted with a character who refuses to talk with you?

It may seem hopeless at times but there are techniques that might draw your characters into conversation with you. Here are four.

1. Character Interview
I have a standard set of 100 questions that I present to every lead character and the antagonist, as well as a few secondary or minor characters. The list begins with basic information like name, age, where they live and whether or not they're married. Topics include physical appearance, the character's attitude toward work, money, family, religion, and personal ambition. The list I have concludes with the character's thoughts on his or her fellow characters.

You can use this list like a standard resume and fill in the blanks, as though building a dossier on the character without his or her direct input.

2. Meet with Your Character
You can also use the basic interview questions in a more traditional interview style in which you 'sit down' with your character and discuss the questions.

The first time I did this, I was in a moment of desperation. I'd been trying to figure out the why of my lead's behavior and 'fell into' a discussion with him as we sat on the back deck of his house. It ended up being an illuminating exercise.

The most interesting such interview – and the one that proved to me the worth of this method – was when I sat down to talk with a professor character. Since he’s an overachiever and quite proud of his accomplishments, I thought his office was a good place to start. The interview went wrong almost from the start. Just as I was about to call the whole thing off, he suggested a change of venue. We ended up at his favorite near-campus restaurant, where we talked about all sorts of things. It was one of the most productive character conversations I’ve ever encountered.

The pivotal factor with this approach is to meet at a place where your character is comfortable. It does imply a basic knowledge of your character to begin with, but a lot of times, the process of characterization doesn't break down at the very beginning. It happens later on.

With this method, you can go into it with an idea of where it might end up, but don’t be restricted by that idea. Part of learning about your character is learning what works and doesn’t work for him or her. Let that sort of discovery happen without too much author influence.

3. Drop the Character into a Crisis Situation
That's right. Imagine a crisis situation. Put your character right in the middle of it. Watch to see how he or she reacts then record what happens. Granted, this might be a short exercise of 100 words or less, but it might also be the very ice breaker you need.

This works best if the situation is not related directly to the story you're trying to write. That event may end up in the story, but it's more likely to be a character-defining event in the character's past. Something no one else knows about.

It might also be something you set up just for ‘fun’. What would your character do in an earthquake, for example? Think outside the box for this kind of exercise.

4. Start a Character Journal
Let your character rant, rail, whine, moan, and otherwise express him or herself in the pages of a personal journal. Don't write as the character's biographer (which is the way most writers write). No. Write as the character. You can start with a question in mind, but don't consciously ask the character that question. Begin just like you might begin your own personal journal.

Stumped for ways to get started? Consider these potential opening lines.

·         I can't believe things turned out the way they did.

·         Who would ever have thought X would treat me that way?

·         I always knew X would come to no good.

The subject might be personal to the character (as in the first three examples) or it might be about someone the character knows (as in the fourth example). It could be about relationship, politics, business, hobbies, anything. Find something that angers, frightens or excites your character and you've made a good start.

This again implies a basic general knowledge of your character, but as I mentioned earlier, that's not usually where problems occur anyway.

These are four of my favorite methods. There are others, of course, but these will get you started.

Whatever method you use, the most important thing – in fact the KEY – is to be patient. You may need to coax a reluctant character into confiding in you. That's okay. Not every person you meet on the street spills their life story to you on the first encounter.

Chances are, your characters won't either.


  1. Thank you for writing this post for CWOSA, Carrie. It's packed full of really good suggestions.

    Hmmm I've never thought of choosing a venue where the character is comfortable or letting him/her choose the venue. Great tip.

  2. Carrie, thank you for visiting us over here in Africa and sharing your interesting article with us. You have some unusual suggestions. Like Ruth, I never thought of asking my characters where they'd like to be interviewed!

  3. Thanks, Carrie for the great blog. I especially found number 3 interesting - Drop the Character into a Crisis Situation.

  4. Thanks for so much fresh material to think about, Carrie! I never before thought about getting to know what characters think about the other characters--that's a method I'm going to start using right away! The idea of a character journal is also interesting.

  5. Thank you all for your comments! I do so appreciate it!


    Thank you in return for the invitation. It was a lot of fun!

    I never before considered where the character might be most comfortable when conducting an interview. It was always all about me (the author) until the Professor came along. I'm a lot more open to the characters these days. It has paid off!


    You're welcome! I am happy to be here!


    You're welcome, too.

    I love crisis situations! They always seem to be more revealing than almost anything else I can do to discover what a character is really like.


    You are welcome!

    I must be honest, the idea of asking a character how he or she felt about the other characters was not my idea. I found it somewhere. I just can't remember where.

    I might also add that this section of the interview is in two parts.

    Ask your character what he likes about each of the characters (including his or her opponents). Then ask what he or she dislikes about each of the characters (including romantic interest, friends and family).

  6. Thanks Carrie, for taking the time to share with us! I do not write fiction, but found it very interesting nonetheless. My method with non-fiction is "strictly God-inspired" but you have encouraged me to put more structure behind it. Have a happy week!