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How to Interview People


There are things that some writers will never be able to understand. A straight writer will never be able to experience the emotion that goes into a girl coming out to her parents. A writer who was homeschooled will never be able to understand the pain of being bullied in the schoolyard. A male writer will never truly understand what a woman feels while on her period.

There will always be experiences you can’t have for whatever reason. However, there will always be people who have lived through the experiences already. And what can  you do about it? (Hint: you can’t beat them over the head and steal their memories.) You can interview them.

So here’s how to interview people whom you’ve never met before on Tumblr.

  1. Find your subject. What do you need to know about? Is it a mental experience? Physical?
  2. Do a Google search. Make sure you’re not going into the interview completely blind. Do some research before hand and come up with questions that should be answered by another human, not a Wikipedia article.
  3. Come up with your questions. While interviewing someone you’ve never met before, you should stick to at most ten questions. Try to get as much information as you can out of as few questions possible.
  4. Find people to interview. This can be done by looking through Tumblr’s tags. If you’re looking for someone who has a certain phobia, search that and look through the posts until you find someone who mentions having it.
  5. Send an ask. While sending your ask, always make sure you start with a ‘hello’ and end with a ‘thank you’.  Make sure you’re polite and explain yourself well. This was my initiative ask while looking for people to interview about thixophobia.

Hello. I saw your post on the thixophobia tag, and I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind being interviewed about your phobia. I’m writing a novel where the main character suffers from the same fear as you do, and I’m trying to portray it as accurately as possible. Thank you for your time.

At this point, you might have to wait a while. It’s entirely possible that the person you asked will never answer you, but you have to be patient. Do not spam them, do not send rude messages. But after waiting a few hours or a day, they might say, “Sure, I’ll help you out.”

  1. Set rules and boundaries. Tell them that their answers are completely confidential. Tell them how many questions there are total. Tell them that if any of the questions are too personal, they do not have to answer. Remember, the person you asked didn’t have to agree to this.
  2. Ask your questions. While I interviewed people, I chose to send one question at a time because of the Ask Box character limit, and also so as not to overwhelm the person I was asking.
  3. Copy and paste the answers into a document. Save everything so it’s easy to find for future reference. Your Tumblr inbox can get cluttered, and things can get lost or accidentally deleted.
  4. Thank your interviewee. Do not skip this step. Thank them, tell them how much you appreciate them taking time from their day to answer your questions. They didn’t have to do anything for you. They could have just deleted your ask and been done with it, but they didn’t. They deserve a big thank you.

And now you’re done. Congratulations, you have successfully interviewed someone you’ve never met before, and hopefully you have a better idea about whichever topic you’re writing about.

Well, this goes deliciously with this recent post of ours. 

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