What To Do If Your Characters Won’t Talk To You

Or do they talk too much?


Is there a “right” way to communicate with your characters?

I pondered this question late one night when I couldn’t sleep (the places a mind can go at three in the morning!). The topic was on my mind due to a Facebook discussion, where an author was concerned she had a problem because her characters wouldn’t “talk” to her. She had heard other authors say they had regular and vivid conversations with their characters, and she felt left out because she didn’t.

Many in the responses assured her she wasn’t doing anything wrong. Several authors, myself included, said their characters don’t communicate with them like disembodied entities. The consensus at the end of the thread was, like most aspects of writing, there’s no one right way. How your characters communicate with you is part of your writing process, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Whose Head Is This?

Personally, my characters don’t talk to me, they talk through me. I do a rough character sketch before I begin writing a story, but the characters, whether main or secondary, reveal themselves to me as I write. They don’t get inside my head, but I get inside theirs. When I am writing in a character’s POV, I am that character. I inhabit their mind, see what they see, feel what they feel. I think that is why I am able to write in deep point of view, and also why I can’t stand “head hopping” (alternating POV in the same scene). It may also be why I write slower than some writers, because it takes time to get into, and out of, character. The only downside is, when I write from the POV of an antagonist who is psychologically messed up, or a villain type, it sometimes creeps me out and takes a while to recover!

My reviews have cited “a wealth of character development” and now I know why. I didn’t even realize that I was, so to speak, “inhabiting” my characters until I thought about how other authors communicate with theirs.

Characters Are Crucial

Characters and their motivations, quirks, and personalities are extremely important in fiction. No matter what genre you write, character development is what makes the reader care about what is happening plot-wise. Some genres have more emphasis on character development and interaction than others, but knowing your characters is crucial for all fiction.
So, what can you do if they aren’t jabbering?

Here’s a few tips I have heard about getting to know your characters:

Write a character sketch– it can be a few paragraphs, a list, or a dossier. Some writers swear by this, and it helps them to know what food the character likes, what astrological sign they are, what happened to them when they were six, etc. Much of the information may not be used in the story, but serves as background, which helps to develop the character’s motivations and quirks.

Interview your characters– pretend you’re a journalist or a psychologist, and grill them with questions. Many writers find this helps when they are stuck, to ask the character what he/she wants to happen.

Try deep POV– even if you are not writing your story that way. Really get inside your character’s mind, and figure out why they behave the way they do. Writing a scene or two, which you may or may not use, can trigger you to discover aspects about that character you were missing.

Map it out– use a structural template, such as Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, or something similar, to map out your character’s development and arc. Sometimes breaking it down like that can trigger all sorts of ideas and provide insight into the character’s psychological makeup.

Brainstorm- talk it out with another author or a trusted beta reader. If you feel disconnected or blocked from a character, talking it through with someone else can also trigger understanding. Sometimes just voicing your concerns out loud can make the character more “real” and you can gain insight into what they want or should do in your story.

The bottom line is, there is no one right way to communicate with your characters. Whether they are noisy or quiet, how they get the story through you and onto the page is highly personal and individual. While it is a good idea to try new methods, don’t compare yourself to other writers. If your way makes you comfortable and works for you, bravo!

Do your characters talk to you? What’s your process for finding out what they are all about?


Interview With Author Lexi C. Foss- Two New Series Debut


I am very excited to feature a debut author here on my blog. Her name is Lexi C. Foss, and I’m predicting she will be a well-known author in no time! She debuts in May 2017 with not one, but TWO new series, and already has the interwebs abuzz. Her paranormal romance, Blood Laws, and her Contemporary Romance, The Prince’s Game, will both be released in May 2017. Lexi took time out of her ultra-busy release schedule to tell us a bit more about her herself and her exciting new releases.

Welcome, Lexi! It’s unusual for an author to debut two separate series at the same time, so tell us how that came about.

I’m still debating if this was a good decision, or one made in a moment of insanity. I wrote both books around the same time because I needed to balance the dark with the light. Blood Laws is a bit edgier with darker elements, while The Prince’s Game has a humorous undertone and light subject matter. I’m curious to see how they do in comparison to each other with readers. I’ve always loved statistics, so I’m sure I’ll have some fun playing with the results of this case study.

When did you make the decision to write your books and how did you decide on indie publishing?

I’ve always been a daydreamer. On a boring day back in 2009, I decided to write down some dialogue that was floating around in my head. Then I added some description, and suddenly I was staring a 300,000 word monstrosity that I realized was a full blown series. I toyed with various voices, wrote a few other story ideas out, and then I went back to school for my Master of Public Health. My hobby was put on hold until last summer (2016) when a friend of mine encouraged me to get back into writing and take it seriously. She told me about indie publishing, introduced me to an awesome group of writers, and the rest was history.

In Blood Laws, you created a world with paranormal creatures, who appear on the surface to be everyday people. What challenges did you face to make your characters stand out?

I don’t know that I really faced any challenges in making them stand out, but I have faced challenges toning down some of their voices. They are all very loud in my head, demanding I write one thing or another, and sometimes I have to put them in timeout for unruly conduct. Balthazar is the biggest offender. He wasn’t supposed to be in Blood Laws at all, but he kept badgering me until I gave in (he would tell me – “I told you so” – because his scenes did make sense in the end). They all have their own quirks, and I love writing about them. Their voices and unique mannerisms are what makes brings them to life on paper.

The Prince’s Game is a bit different from the intensity of Blood Laws. Was it a challenge to write two series at the same time?

Not at all. The Prince’s Game offered me the mental break I needed after writing Blood Laws. It was a lighter, funnier story that is very different from darkness of Blood Laws. Writing both books so close together kept my creativity fresh, and gave me a break before starting on what will be a very dark novel – Forbidden Bonds.

Will you be attending any conferences this year, so readers can meet you?

I will be all over the place this year:

  • Romantic Times Convention in Atlanta, Georgia: May 2, 2017 – May 7, 2017
  • Romance Writers of America Conference in Orlando, Florida: July 26, 2017 – July 29, 2017
  • Book Obsessed Babes Author Signing Event in Destin, Florida: September 9, 2017
  • Indie Romance Convention: October 4, 2017 – October 7, 2017
  • For the Love of Books & Alcohol in Chicago, IL: October 14, 2017

What’s next? Tell us about your upcoming works in progress or new releases.

Blood Laws will be released on May 2nd and The Prince’s Game will be released on May 9th. So those are my upcoming new releases.  As for works in progress: I’m currently writing Forbidden Bonds, which is book 2 of the Immortal Curse series, and outlining The Charmer’s Gambit, which is book 2 of the Mershano Empire series.

Just for fun, let us know something personal about you…

I was born into a family of Eclipse Chasers. You might be wondering what the means… Well, it means I travel all over the world to see total solar eclipses of the sun. I have see 5 so far in my lifetime (Mexico 1991, Caribbean 1998, Zambia 2001, Turkey 2006, South Pacific 2012), and I will be adding a 6th one to my list in August 2017 (Nashville, TN).

Thanks Lexi! I’m so looking forward to reading all of your books. Here are the important links for everything Lexi C. Foss:


Amazon Author Page


Blood Laws Buy Links

The Prince’s Game Buy Links




2017- Taking On A Whole New Level



I wasn’t going to do the obligatory end of year post, but what a year it’s been!  When I read over my posts from the past two Decembers, I realize just how far I’ve come. One thing I learned this year─even when your dreams come true, there’s usually a surprise or two in the mix.

Mission Accomplished

In December of 2014, I wrote about how my life in general and my writing career in particular seemed to be gathering momentum. I had goals and plans, and they were taking shape. At the end of 2015, I noted how my goals and plans had changed, but the progress I had made was beyond my expectations. The same was true in my private life as well, as I had begun to consider some major changes to my day job.

Well in 2016, everything happened. I sold some of my business interests, a major change in my day job situation. The universe threw me a wonderful curve ball─as soon as I voiced my true desire and made a commitment to pursue it, the people and resources needed to make it happen came forward without me having to seek them out.  Funny how things begin to happen when you get out of your own way!  The result was I had a bit more time and energy to ramp up my publication schedule for my debut, Unexplained, Book One of the Higher Elevation Series. I also set up my author website and finally learned the whole process of producing an indie book and bringing it to market.  Unexplained, a paranormal romance, was published October 25 and was well received. Book Two, Untouched. followed on November 22.

Fallout Girl

Those surprises I mentioned?  I’m still working through them. There was some fallout from rearranging my businesses, and those you can never accurately predict, because people react to changes in different ways. Some aspects went well, some were difficult. The same was true for my rapid release schedule for my books, which I am still in the midst of (Book 3, Undeniable, comes out January 3, 2017). It was a thrill to finally be a published author, but there was some fallout from that, too. I talked about my unexpected reactions in my last post, Post-Publication Syndrome─Now What?

But that’s how it goes when you’re an entrepreneur, you learn as you go. If you start to think you know it all, you’re heading into dangerous territory. But I say learning is part of the fun, right?

Going Up?

So heading into 2017, it feels like I’m on a whole new level. As seems to be the state of the world, rules and traditions are changing, and all at a pretty rapid pace. The dust is beginning to settle in my personal life, making way for new things to grow.  I have new ideas for some old writing projects that have been fermenting, and a few new stories I’d like to work on.  Looks like the future is wide open, and I’m ready for the surprises yet to come.

What about you? Have you had any surprises this year? What are your goals for 2017?



Watching Writers Grow

flowers 004


I don’t have a “green thumb”, but I have learned how to keep most of the plants in my back-porch herb garden alive. In fact, last year I branched out (pardon the pun) to growing fruits and vegetable in pots, enjoying fresh strawberries and peppers, even a miniature eggplant. This from someone who was previously unable to keep any houseplant alive.

What changed? I finally reached a point in my life when I was able to devote some time to cooking, and had a strong desire to use fresh herbs and veggies, thus the garden. In a parallel manner, I also found time to devote to one of my first loves- writing.

In 2011, I had settled into my new home, my new town, and began looking for writing groups in the area. I was lucky to find one that more than suited my needs, organized by a published writer, not far from where I lived. I attended the first meeting of the newly formed critique group, and still belong today.

Our group of about 10-15 writers (it fluctuates) has been through a few format changes, but our core purpose is support. We critique as members submit projects, either samples or even full novels for beta reading. We give presentations to the group on craft, style, industry info, etc. We share links, resources, and attend conferences together. We celebrate successes- at our last meeting we toasted a member’s entry into the NYTBSA list (Congrats, Annabel Joseph)!   And perhaps more importantly, we help each other cope with the inevitable rejections, endless rewrites and other stumbling blocks writers must face.

I have definitely grown in my writing skills as a result of their influence- this blog itself is proof. Not sure whether I would have launched it if I was on my own. Now I have a full novel in edits and am deep into the first draft of Book One a four book series. Their feedback, encouragement and support have been a major factor in my growth, like sunlight, watering and nutrients have helped my garden to grow.

I have also had the pleasure of watching my fellow writers blossom. Seeing a first draft transformed into a full novel ready for publication is exciting. Taking part in the shaping of the final product by providing opinion and suggestions is an honor. Our group has talented writers in various genres, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, and Erotica, to name a few. Some of our members have already been published or are very near to being published. So watch out, world!

So excuse me while I go tend to my garden of word-projects. First you plant the seeds (outlining), then you write (watering and feeding), then you prune and weed (editing and revision). With luck and love, you will reap the final harvest- a finished novel, ready to send out to the world.


A Big Thank You- One Year Blogiversary!


A year ago this month, I published my first post, “The Perpetual Student and The Three R’s” introducing myself to the world as A Writer.

It was a bit of a “coming out”.  I had written all my life, but kept most of it private.  I have to admit I was nervous.  The only writing I had previously shared publicly were memos and proposals in the business world, and while I had become adept at that type of writing (from years of experience and critiquing from bosses and co-workers), my personal, more creative writing had never been taken out and paraded around in the light of day.  It kept it close to me, far away from anyone who might judge it.

But heck, it’s just words and ideas!

Now, when I see an article of interest, or something funny happens, it is really satisfying to share it and present the subject in a way that may trigger other people’s interest.  The times when those of you reading my blog posts have replied with your take on the topic at hand were the best.  What good is this World Wide Web (as they used to call it) if we can’t have a dialogue?

So, here are some stats from the past year:

As of January 1, 2014, this blog has 638 followers.

I have published 32 posts, covering such diverse topics as writing poetry, trends in cover art, family dynamics, buying your first condom, eating fondue, and men who will clean your windows wearing a kilt.

My Top Five posts (had the most views) were:

  1. The Future of Romance Novel Cover Art- Are Hot Abs the New Bodice Rippers?
  2. Featured Author Interview- Annabel Joseph (special thanks to Annabel for the interview)
  3. The Ideal Lover- The Romance Novel Hero (special thanks to my Hubby for the inspiration)
  4. What Is It About Jamie Fraser?
  5. What Is The Sexiest Piece of Clothing A Man Can Wear?

(Hmmm…..I am sensing a pattern here…)

I would also like to thank the members of my Atlanta writer’s critique group (Affectionately known as “Write Bitches”).  Their support, criticism and friendship have been invaluable to me.

Finally, I offer my humble thanks to all of you who have read any of my posts.  I plan to continue writing, writing, writing in 2014.  Carpal tunnel be damned!  So stay tuned, sign up to follow the blog if you haven’t yet, or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus (under the name Renee Regent).  You never know what we will be discussing here next…….

One of the Most Underrated Tools For Writers- Poetry


If a poll was conducted, I would bet that most people, writers or not, have tried their hand at writing poetry at some time in their lives.  Most likely, it was during that angsty-teenage phase in high school, right?

I wrote plenty of poems during that phase.  Some were actually quite good, though most ended up in the trash.  But what is it that draws us to write poetry, as opposed to short stories or novels?

What I have always enjoyed about writing poetry is taking emotions, concepts, and metaphors, then fashioning them into a pleasing pattern that evokes exactly what I wanted to convey.  With poetry, the goal is to create the most impact with the least amount of words.  So they must be exactly the “right” words, in the “correct” order.   Rhythm, rhyme, cadence, and even the visual layout of the words on the page, are all taken into account when creating verse.

Writing poetry is a great way to get the creative juices flowing if they have been blocked or stalled.  I had put aside creative writing for many years, but after my first husband died, I began writing again while I was in mourning.  Poetry came naturally to me, as a way to express the tumult of emotions I had to sort through.  It was so very personal, and helped to heal me in a way that nothing else had.  Here is what I wrote a few weeks after his passing:



…means it’s truly over.

….means he won’t return, ever.

…means I am alone in this life.

…is a hard, cold word, with some softness at its’ center.


…means I can hang on a little longer.

…means I am still close to him.

…means a part of him is still here, forever.

…is a warm, soft word, with a cold, hollow core.

It’s easy to say, “I must let him go”

But so very hard to do.  All I have left

Is this invisible bond, this phantom tie

That keeps me his wife, not his widow

I cannot let him go as long as I live in this house

I can rearrange the furniture, change the curtains…

But he is still here in every beam, every fabric.

How can I let him go when he won’t leave?

I was obviously going through the “acceptance” phase of grief, and taking it on directly helped me to understand how to get through it.  Expressing my thoughts about it in the form of a poem took me to the heart of the matter, and gave me something I could read again and save as a testament of what I experienced during that time.  I eventually did remodel my home, moved on to another home, and remarried.  However, I will never forget those feelings, and I have this poem and others to mark that passage of my life.

Writing poems after so many years of not writing broke loose my stalled creativity.  As time went on, the poems became lighter, humor came back, and I began experimenting.  I started writing scenes, one of which later turned into the novel currently with my beta readers.

Poems still pop into my head out of nowhere, and  I also enjoy reading other people’s poems now and then.  There is such a wide range of styles, and though there are guidelines for crafting poetry, I believe it is one of the most personal things we can write, and therefore we can use words in whatever way we see fit.

So whether you are “a writer” or not, you might want to give writing poetry a try.  It is a wonderful tool of expression, and you can share it with the world, or keep it private.  They are your words, after all.

Here are a few links worth exploring:

36 Poetry Writing Tips

How To Write A Poem- Poetry Techniques 1

How do you feel about poetry?  Is it passé, or does it have a place?