Chocolate Cake – How To Make The Character Interview Meaningful

Yesterday I celebrated another birthday. No, I’m not going to tell you how old I am. I do have some dignity.

But there is definitely one thing magical about birthdays. No, it is not the new wrinkles, added pounds, or the wisdom of experience. Nope.

Two words: Chocolate Cake.

Those two words make up for all of the rest. You see, only on your birthday can you truly indulge in chocolate cake without a tinge of guilt from your inner health nut. For some of us, that nut is harder to find than others. But on your birthday, all guilt flies out the window.

Guiltless doesn’t equal lack of consequence. It should, but when I tried telling my scale that this morning it was duly unimpressed.

You see, stating the fact that it’s my birthday and I had a right to eat cake didn’t change the scale.

As writers sometimes we go through the action of telling our readers all about our characters, but it doesn’t change the story. We’ve devised all kinds of character interviews to help our readers connect with our characters, but sometimes it still falls flat.

How To Make The Character Interview Meaningful:

1. Ask The Right Questions. There are a variety of character interviews out there, but the one I have found the most helpful can be found at My Book Therapy or in the book Inside Out by Susan May Warren. It looks at the lie a character believes and builds their character journey out of it.

Over the life of a book heroes and heroines should change, this interview helps you build that into your story.

2. Dig Deeper. Many character interviews are on basic character traits or what the character loves. These types of character interviews can sometimes help you bring your character to life on the page, but if you don’t dig deeper they are just shallow details.

Ask yourself, Why does it matter? If your character likes chocolate, but there is no emotional tie to it you could bore your readers with too many of these types of details. A few are okay with out answering the why, but if it is important to your character you might want to ask why it matters.

3. Connect It To The Character’s Past. If a character loves baking because she did that with her grandmother every Christmas up until the day she died, then you can build in an emotional connection.

When your character is lonely or homesick, she could bake. The smell of baking soothes her, etc. You get the feeling. Certain smells, foods, or preferences have history that can be used to show emotion in your novel.

What do you like to read about a character? Or How do you make the character interview more meaningful?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

4 thoughts on “Chocolate Cake – How To Make The Character Interview Meaningful

  1. Happy (belated) birthday, and glad you enjoyed it for chocolate cake, although that does no good for my own cravings! I’ve been wanting to have chocolate cake for a week!

    I completely agree with your ideas for character interview – especially ‘ask the right questions’. It all comes down to knowing what your character is like and how they evolve throughout the story. Although character interviews are fun, I’ve read quite a few examples online that ask very silly and irrelevant questions.

    I also try to include one field called ‘Novel Worthiness’ – how important is the character to the story and what do they add to it. It’s extremely important for every character to have an important role in the story.

    Nice post 🙂

    ~ JLT

  2. Pat Trainum says:

    “Was that a piece of your chocolate cake?” I asked as I nibbled my low-calorie fiber bar.
    Yes, it’s extremely important to ask the right questions, especially the lie the character believes coming into the novel. It shapes everything they do.
    Great post!

  3. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks, Pat. I see that not so low-calorie chocolate laced fiber bar. LOL!

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