September 2, 2016

Grab a Seat!

By Teresa Smyser

I’m somewhat of an anomaly—a woman who does not like to shop! Gasp! I know—a man’s dream woman. Instead of pushing, shoving, snatching, and grabbing, I would rather people watch. Did you know that people are fascinating . . . and . . . a little bit weird, too? Yes, I enjoy pulling up a bench or a comfy chair in the mall and letting my eyes do the shopping. Shopping for what you might ask?

During my covert surveillance, I’m gathering material for characters in my latest book—mannerisms, attitude, personality, walk, physical features to a name a few. The crowds are full of attention-grabbing individuals. Since I want the men and women in my novels to be three dimensional, there is no better place to start than with actual people.

As my husband so often says to me, “the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.” With so many thoughts racing through my mind at any given moment, I have to agree with him. Therefore, I create a character template for each of my main characters. Once these pages are complete, I keep them close at hand while writing on my novel. There is nothing worse than reading a great book and wha-la . . . the hero’s eyes changed from brown to blue. What? Yes, the author did not keep his or her facts straight from start to finish. Do not be caught making that faux pas!

I start with a full name for the hero and the heroine and then follow with these traits:

1. Their physical attributes: hair, eyes, nose, height, etc. Be specific.
2. Personality: sweet, arrogant, brash, timid, etc. Combine several together for a realistic soul.
3. One extraordinary quality about him/her.
4. A few weaknesses—no one is perfect.
5. Now list their strengths—physical and emotional.
6. What do they value above all else?
7. Do they have a bucket list or a dream to achieve?
8. Assign each of them a deep fear—we all have at least one.
9. Are they trying to hide something? A secret? A lie?
10. Finally, list favorite foods, music, activities, relatives, etc.

You get the picture. You might want to make a sheet for a couple of your secondary characters and how they relate to the main characters. This will be beneficial as you develop your tale and help keep you straight on “who’s who” and “what’s what” in your story.

Happy Writing!!
Teresa Smyser is the author of Heaven Help Us! a contemporary Christian romance novel which was released in 2014. Her second novel, The Warrior & Lady Rebel, a historical Christian romance tale set in 1600 England, debuted in 2015. She lives in Northern Alabama with her minister husband and their deaf cat, Spock. They have two married children and one grandson. A graduate from Eastern Kentucky University, Teresa now works part-time from home as an accountant. She currently leads a local writers’ group and divides the rest of her time between family, friends, church activities and writing. Book two of her Warrior Bride Series is scheduled to be released later this year. Visit her on or email comments and questions to

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