Every human is a jigsaw of details. Nervous habits, catch-phrases, dressing choices. Speech patterns, favorite books, topics they talk about again and again and again.
My favorite characters are the ones that feel like real people because they have things that make them them.
Ronald Weasly hates spiders. Agustus Waters smokes unlit cigarettes. Hermionie Granger never goes anywhere without a book or five. Celena Sardothian has music in her soul.
Real humans are like this, too. My roommate sings non-stop. A friend of mine wears Pajama pants 24/7. One of my professors sports a different-colored bowtie every day of the week. I have another friend who only ever talks about cars or computers. It’s these details that all come together to make people who they are, and it’s OUR JOB as WRITERS to make our characters feel like real people.
One of the ways we can do this is by giving our characters details.
As I’ve been learning this more, I’ve been studying people more. My friends have noticed – if I’m staring at someone for too long, they’ll be like, “Oh, Beth’s just doing the writer thing again.” But it’s part of where I get my characters – from studying people.
That guy who always walks into class late? Detail. The guy who wears a rainbow hat with a spinny thing on top? Detail. The girl who sits alone in a coffee shop on Valentine’s Day, typing up a blog post? Detail. (That’s me by the way!)
My challenge is remembering this when I write. Too often, I write characters that feel flat because they all dress, talk, and react the same way. No more. Let’s go write characters that jump off the page, character with voices and habits and tastes of their own.