Characters Won’t Talk? Ply Them with Alcohol! . . plus a Mulled Wine Recipe

Ever gather your novel characters together to discuss something Really Important . . but they end up kind of just sitting around on the page? Don’t play the mope and stare game. These characters are your creations, and they are more or less subject to your suggestions.

Nothing enhances the flow of conversation quite like the flow of alcohol. So the next time your characters pull the taciturn routine, ply them with a bit of booze. Just don’t go overboard with it, unless your characters are interactive somniloquists.

I frequently construct mental stories around pop culture figures, people I know, and strangers I see on the street. The following characters are from some of these stories. Let these stereotypes be springboards to your party with your own reticent creations . .

o O

Jason: A Teetotaler from Bible Belt, USA. Deeply religious, guilt-ridden.

Pair with: O’Doul’s.

Cut Off: When the stigmata appears.

o O

DJ: A Nerdy Daydreamer. Vain.

Pair with: Appletini (in which you can really taste the apple).

Cut Off: When he starts giving away free hugs.

o O

MG: An Eco-Aware Homeowner. Animal lover. Eternal optimist.

Pair with: Boxed wine.

Cut Off: When she OCDs on the “Tip it! Tip it!”

o O

Winston: A Nymphomaniacal Party Animal, and cash-poor bicycle-rider. Compulsive liar.

Pair with: A 40.

Cut Off: When Rider Strong shows up at the party.

o O

Kelly: A Teflon Midas. Smooth, talented, urbane, and hip – he’s already started the party.

Pair with: Coke and Rum.

Cut Off: When he says he can’t wait for the bathroom.

o O

Steve-O: An All-American Frat Party Boy. Immature, highly excitable, and a Jerry Springer fan. Also a baseball / basketball / football / ice hockey / NASCAR fan.

Pair with: Budweiser, of course.

Cut Off: When he starts crying and saying “I love you, man!” to his frat buddies.

o O

Weems: A Hopeless Junkie.

Pair with: Mad Dog 20 / 20.

Cut Off: When the vomit spews (timing can be tricky).

o O

Rose: A Rock ’n’ Roll Rebel from a broken home. Can be violent – a biter.

Pair with: Night Train.

Cut Off: When somebody throws a £1 coin.

o O

Jack: Former Cult Member. An alternately wealthy and bankrupt notorious publicity hound. Addicted to self-mutilation.

Pair with: Jesus Juice.

Cut Off: When the kiddies show up.

o O

Jake: An Old Hillbilly Coot* in Deep South, USA. He has a long, scraggly beard, and bare feet. He wears a wide-brimmed hat and overalls and is always within an arm’s-reach of a shotgun. Missing teeth and bulging eyes. Acute paranoia and / or dementia.

Pair with: Whisky (pronounced “whooo-hisky.”)

Cut Off: When “dagnabbit” and “whippersnapper” (pronounced “whooo-ippersnapper”) become unintelligible from rest of his “speech.”

o O

Popcorn: Same as above, except the hillbilly’s name is “Popcorn.”

Pair with: Moonshine.

Cut Off: When he fires his shotgun over your head.

o O

Amanda: A UK sophisticate from an aristocratic family. Hopeless romantic. Fond of thick sweaters and berets. Studies philosophy and writes poetry.

Pair with: Mulled Wine.

Cut Off: When she wanders too near the edge of an ocean cliff (desert cliffs OK).

 *Meant in the most respectful manner.

Feel free to leave your own character and alcohol pairings in the comments!

And now, back to the wine . .


Mulled Wine

1 cup Water

1 teaspoon Mixed Peppercorns

½ teaspoon Whole Cloves

1/8 inch cut of fresh Ginger Root

1 Cinnamon Stick

1 Bay Leaf

¼ cup Turbinado Sugar

½ cup Triple Sec

2 cups Burgundy

Simmer spice in water for 5 minutes. Dissolve sugar in spice water. Add Triple Sec and Burgundy and heat to steaming. Serve hot.

Leave a comment


  1. Brilliant! I’ve used alcohol more than once to get my guys talking. Some of them notoriously don’t drink alcohol at all, which doesn’t make it less interesting.
    – Happy holidays!

    • Thanks! This can be a virtual drink (the character partakes in your mind) or a proxy drink (you become the character and quaff your drink of choice). In moderation, of course.

      Happy Holidays!

      • Oh yes. One of the guys I write about practically taught me to enjoy whiskey. So proxy drinking I’ve definitely tried too.

  2. jesswords10

     /  January 3, 2011

    Hilarious! Very funny and helpful idea. Will definitely add it to my list of writing prompts!

  3. I love mulled wine! 😀 And that’s a great recipe.

    One of my characters has a room in his house that he calls his “booze room”, lol. It’s where all the fun happens!

  4. Thanks! When I put together the recipe, I didn’t have any oranges. Good thing, because I used Triple Sec instead.

    “Booze room”- love it! I imagine that character is easy to work with.

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