Monday, May 23, 2011

Writing Craft: Rounding Out Characters, Part One

There are lot sand lots of ways to develop your characters more, so I'm going to tackle them one-at-a-time in these Monday posts for the next few weeks.

This week, we're going to talk about hobbies and passions. If you really think about it, everyone has a hobby, apart from their job, that they take seriously. Maybe it's a sport, like my neigbor; maybe it's antique cars; maybe it's a craft, like knitting or crocheting; maybe, like me, you know a few sci-fi buffs. It could be anything, but everybody has something.

The thing is, if you want your characters to be believable, they should have hobbies and passions, too. And those hobbies and passions should inform their internal thoughts and their dialogue.

Teresa Toten's YA novel ME AND THE BLONDES is a great example of this. In it, the main character, who tells the story, is the captain of her basketball team, so her inner thoughts are filled with sports references. When she uses a metaphor, it's often basketball-related. Not every time, but enough that we really understand that this is a kid who plays basketball seriously.

Additionally, her mother is a film buff, so her dialogue is peppered with movie quotes. And every character is like this.

There are challenges with this. If the hobby is one you don't know anything about, there will be research involved. And then there's the question of blank-slate-style relatability, which I'll get into in another post. There is a balance to be struck here, and it will take a lot of attention to detail and hard work in the revision stage. But it's hard work that will pay off.

Are you already doing this in your WiP? Did it improve your manuscript?


  1. Great idea! I love reading books that have quirks like this.

  2. This is great advice. The best books weave in the hobby/passions into the main plot.