This isn’t the first article I’ve written about characters. Characters are important! All of the action and plot twists and witty dialogue in the world won’t do you any good if your readers do not feel a connection to your characters and care about what happens to them. People read to see what will happen to your characters. End of story! I know many of us have some pretty strong emotional investments in our characters. Some of us even feel as though they have their minds of their own, and have taken on their own lives and make their own decisions and we are simply taking dictation.
We are all adept at making our characters live and breathe for us. But, what makes them live and breathe for the reader? Well, when I think of characters that really came alive off the page for me, I think of Robert Langdon; I think of his fear of elevators and his Mickey Mouse watch. When I think of Harry Potter, I think of his glasses, trainers, and his scar. In other words, the devil is in the details.
When I’m writing and trying to bring a character into focus, I start thinking about details. What cereal does this person eat for breakfast? What stores do they shop at? I’ve frequently been amazed by how working out these tiny details can make the big ones come into clear and brilliant focus.
Of course, overwhelming your reader is something to be careful of. You’ll bore your readers if you fill your page with descriptions of meal preferences and nail polish shades. But, that doesn’t mean it won’t help you to know them yourself or pay for you to spend some time thinking about them.
And, picking a few key ones to share, like a Mickey Mouse Watch, can really make your character stand out.
What are some of your favorite character quirks and details? What details about your characters endear them to you?
I’d love to hear.