5 Easy Tips to Deepen Your Characterization



Don’t you like characters in novels to come across so real you look them up in an online directory? My guest today, Marian P. Merritt, gives pointers to do just that. After you’ve collected her tips, be sure to learn more about her new novel, The Vigil, after her post.


Marian says:

1.  Do an Extensive Character Interview

Know your main characters well. BE NOSY! This is the only time you have a license to pry, so go for it. Ask pointed questions, delve deep into their past and get to the root of their fears, motivations, quirks, etc. There are many interview sheets available on the web, check them out to get an idea.

I suggest creating your own for two reasons:

  1. The process of determining what is important to ask and what isn’t will help you as a writer.
  2. You’ll know how to ask the questions that will bring out the important traits of YOUR characters.

Author Janalyn Voigt’s recent Live Write Breathe blog post contained a link to a Writers Helping Writers Character Profile Questionnaire.

 2.  Use Setting

Setting can have a dual role—to ground the reader in the environment, but also to symbolize the character’s emotions. Let your setting be more than a backdrop for your story, let it be an extension of your characters. A way to blend the character with the setting.

photo by John Sullivan
photo by John Sullivan

But keep it simple and use sparingly like the Filé in da Gumbo. Because a pinch enhances and blends, a handful overpowers and ruins.

Examples: An emotional upheaval in a character’s life can be symbolized by the condition of her house, car, yard, garden etc. Use something your character loves doing or caring for and show their lack of attention or increased attention because of their emotional state. 

For wonderful examples, see Sandra Leesmith’s Seekerville post where she references Mary Buckham’s book, Writing Active Setting.

3.  Use Descriptions with Actions

ID-100276538Don’t just describe. Show your character along with their actions.

Describe by telling: Jenna had a pointed nose and wide hips.

Show with Action: Jenna fisted her hands upon her ample hips and stared down her pointed nose.

Can you see Jenna a little better? We get emotion and description.

In his book, Building Believable Characters, Marc McCutcheon says, “combine a physical description with some form of action.” 

4.  Show Clearly the Character’s Goals, Obstacles, and Fears

Image courtesy of kantapat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of kantapat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Let the reader see the character’s goals. They then know what to root for and will see the roadblocks for the character. Showing your character’s strengths and flaws will be tapping into what their fears are and why. Making for a deeper more relatable character.

Art Holcomb gives more on Storyfix2.0.


5.  Give Your Reader Something They DEEPLY Care About

mp900433140.jpgThis can be: A cause, an object of great sentimental value, a place, or a person outside of their family. This gives the reader a glimpse into your character’s heart. What they hold dear tells a lot about a person. 

Zoe, thanks for having me here today. Readers, these are just a few of the ways to create deeper richer characters. Can you add an easy way to deepen characters to this list?


Marian P. Merritt -Headshot

Marian Pellegrin Merritt writes stories that blend her love of the mountains with her deep Southern roots. Her tagline, Where the Bayous Meets the Mountains, grew from both loves. She is the author of, Deep Freeze Christmas, A Cajun Christmas Miracle, and Southern Fried Christmas.

Her latest release, a Women’s Fiction novel, The Vigil, can be purchased at online retailers.

Marian is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and an accounting certificate from the University of South Alabama.

This Louisiana native writes from the Northwest Colorado home she shares with her husband and a very spoiled Labradoodle.

Connect with her through Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter Marian P. Merritt’s Readers Group

Buy links to Marian’s Books: http://www.marianmerritt.com/#!/cnec

TheVigil_h11658_680THE VIGIL 

Cheryl Broussard made two vows: She’d never fall for an abusive man, and she’d never return to her Louisiana hometown. But she’s learned all too well the lesson of never-say-never. Now, back in Bijou Bayou after fleeing from an abusive boyfriend, Cheryl finds work as a Hospice nurse. While reading a dying patient’s Korean War love letters, family secrets shatter Cheryl’s beliefs about her family and herself and shed light on the reason she fled her hometown. When the Broussard family secrets are revealed, can Cheryl deal with the truth and accept the blessing of a second chance for relationships with her family, old friends, and with the God she never really knew?



32 Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Book

“People are in such a hurry to launch their product or business that they seldom look at marketing from a bird’s eye view and they don’t create a systematic plan.” —Dave Ramsey

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve pursued many of these marketing activities for Calculated Risk. Decide which you have time for, would enjoy, and can afford.

For any of these ideas, search online for help on how to do the activities well and for testimonies on their effectiveness.

Marketing Ideas


1.  “About Content” – Update the content about you on all your social networks. Include interesting tidbits about your book.

2.  ACFW Fiction Finder – Check requirements to add your title to this American Christian Fiction Writers listing for people looking for fiction.

3.  Ads – Join multiple authors in magazine ads. Newspaper ads for author events. Some blogs will display your cover in sidebars.

4.  Amazon Author Central – Set up an account and author page.

Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5.  Announcements – Build email lists now. Send your promotion postcards to readers and libraries.

6.  Audience Analysis – Define your audience and where members gather. Join their online groups and build relationships.

7.  Blog – Post regularly. Display your book cover on the sidebar. Publish book-related posts around your release date. Guest-blog on others’ blogs.

8.  Blog Tours – Find bloggers willing to host you during a set period.

9.  Book Clubs – Include a website tab. Offer free bookplates to groups that discuss your book. Offer to attend meetings through phone or Skype.

10.  Book Launch Party – Plan a celebration at a local bookstore or a community center.

11.  Book Signing – Hand out bookmarks. Join multi-author signings.

12.  Book Trailer – Put your trailer on your website and other sites, such as Amazon’s Author Central.

13.  Drawings – Hold drawings for a book or basket of book-related items at book signings and local businesses.

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

14.  Conferences – Offer books at the center’s bookstore. Leave book promotional materials on appropriate tables. Build relationships.

15.  Contests – Enter respected contests. Winners can add “award-winning author” to their bio. Runner-ups can mention that fact.

16.  Consignments – Approach local gift shops to sell your books on consignment.

17.  Email Addresses – Collect them on drawing entry forms or in your guestbook at author events. Ask participants to subscribe to your newsletter.

18.  Endorsements – Include them on your website’s Book Page, promotional materials, press releases, and author pages.

19.  Excerpts – Choose book excerpts for your website, interviews, and speaking events.

20.  Facebook Author Page – Post regularly. Share book news.

by MrMagic
by MrMagic

21.  Festivals, Fairs, and Craft Shows – Set up a book table and chat with people.

22. Goodreads – Hold book giveaways. Participate in Goodreads groups.

23.  Influencers – Gather people to read your advance reader copies, write honest reviews, and promote your book on their social networks.

24.  Interviews – Obtain interviews on blogs, websites, and other media.

Image courtesy of chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

25. Library Events – Contact local libraries and plan fun meet-the-author events.

26.  Newsletter – Produce a newsletter periodically with content exclusively for subscribers.

27.  Press Release – Send releases to local newspapers and the content to library and bookstore coordinators for your events.

28.  Promotional Materials – Order bookmarks, business cards, postcards, posters, car magnets, banners, and book-related giveaways.

29.  Reviewers – Request book reviews from bloggers and professionals who write reviews.

30.  Speaking Engagements – Prepare talks to use for various types of events.

31.  Virtual Parties – Host an online party with book-related blurbs and giveaways.

32.  Website – Maintain a quality, updated website.

Peruse these marketing ideas & start promoting your upcoming book now. Click to tweet.

Add to the list. What are other marketing ideas?

Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthyHere’s a plug for a marketing idea my publisher is doing: 

For the entire season of Lent, all e-books in the Pelican Book Group store are free. Yes, free–all e-books in the catalogue–from 18 Feb to 2 April. Calculated Risk is included in this promotion.

5 Steps to Save Days in Marketing Your Next Book

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” — William Penn

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To save days marketing Book 2, you need to become a super-crazed, organized packrat for Book 1. If you failed to do these steps on Book 1, do them during Book 2.

by taliesin
by taliesin

Step 1 – Save

During the writing and publishing process for Book 1, save every email and link you come across with information and ideas about book marketing. Stick adhesive notes in magazine articles and books you read on marketing. Save marketing handouts from workshops.

by Ladyheart
by Ladyheart

Put the emails and links in an electronic mail folder. File the paper info in a big manila folder. Let it be a mess.


Step 2 – Suction

Four months before promoting Book 1, block off a day’s worth of time on your schedule. Gather the saved documents from Tip 1. Suction all the ideas from these materials and enter them into an electronic spreadsheet. Write good titles to sort on for each Project, such as Launch Party, Newsletter, and Book Signing 1.

 Step 3 – Assign

For each Project in your spreadsheet, assign a Project number and a tentative month to work on that item. As you work on the projects, insert rows for the tasks to be performed. Record the months you actually do each task. In cases such as Library Event 1, change it to Library Event Wythe County.

Suggested Columns: Month, Project Name, Task, Sub-task, Due Date, Work “Done”, Live Date, and Notes (for links and contact info.)

Example for Calculated Risk: 


Step 4 – Store

by Penywise
by Penywise

Purchase a 3-ring binder. I used a 3 ½-inch binder. For each Project-related document, write the project number in the upper right corner. Then file it by Project number in the binder. Here are some examples of Project documents.

Example: Project #23 Book Signing

  • “Tips for a Successful Book Signing” article from your messy marketing folder
  • Info about the particular store
  • Important emails between store contact and you (leave others in your electronic folder)
  • Questions for the initial meeting with store contact
  • Press release content
  • Ad specs

Step 5 – Evaluate

When Book 1 promotion winds down, note in your spreadsheet which Projects you would remove or change. You’ll probably have a few Projects you didn’t pursue that you might consider for Book 2.

Two timesaving resources to develop now for marketing your next book. Click to tweet.

Now you have two timesaving resources:

  • Your electronic spreadsheet contains all the marketing projects and tasks you performed. And possible ones for future books. You know when to schedule tasks. You can click on the saved links. You have email addresses and telephone numbers.
  • Your document binder is cross-referenced to your spreadsheet by project numbers. You have all the documents and forms you need to repeat the tasks for Book 2.

For example, the forms you completed to order bookmarks, business cards, and postcards have all the technical specs recorded. You already know what finish to choose.

In an upcoming post, I’ll share possible marketing ideas.

What time saver have you used in marketing your books?

Here’s a plug for a marketing idea my publisher is doing: 

For the entire season of Lent, all e-books in the Pelican Book Group store are free. Yes, free–all e-books in the catalogue–from 18 Feb to 2 April. Calculated Risk is included in this promotion.

Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthy