Quirky Sources to Add to Your Characterization
I live and breathe story—most writers do. And we’re always looking for ways to ensure our characters and their predicaments are exciting and unique. Some of the places we look can be a bit . . . different. But the exploration is worth it.
Here are a few areas that I’ve delved into to add idiosyncrasies to character, plot, dialogue, setting, emotion, body language, and symbolism. You might find your next plot twist there too.
COFFEE, TEA, OR MILK?
I admit my characters drink coffee. Usually black. But what about a tea drinker? What brand? Sugar or cream? Use a tea bag or steep the leaves? Visit a shop that carries tea and check out the buyers. You’ll find all sizes and ages. What if your character is a milk drinker? Whole milk or two percent? Your character could despise coffee, tea, is lactose intolerant and drinks only lemonade.
Everyone needs to buy food, and most of us develop habits that stick throughout life. Does your character smell the pineapple? Squeeze a head of lettuce? Always buy two of each kind of fruit. Only selects organic products? Despise vegetables and replace them with green apples? What about your character’s choice of candy—from gummy worms to dark chocolate? Does your character save the dairy and bakery department until last, or does the ice cream always melt by the time she gets to the checkout line?
Observe what is going on the next time you’re at a hair or nail salon. Women can have some crazy habits regarding their hair, fingers, and toes, everything from color to style. What about a woman at a hardware store searching for nails or plumbing supplies? Open a character’s closet. Is it organized and tidy or a train wreck? Study those people at a family reunion. Who resembles whom and what mannerisms make them distinct?
I used to think the only mall walkers were of the seasoned citizen variety, but not so. I see women pushing strollers and men joining them. Some of the walkers window-shop, sip coffee, chat on the phone, make sure they don’t work up a sweat, and (my personal favorite) pump their arms and legs as though heading for the Olympic gold.
Preferably in the summer because the writer will want to participate in the fun. This is another place to snap a ton of pics. Who zooms down a water slide? Who’s the man who doesn’t want to get wet? Who’s there to show off his/her body? Who could care less how he/she looks—those enthusiasts just want to have fun.
Sometimes this can be compared to a zoo. Need I say more?
Who doesn’t love a devoted dog, cat, or horse? Those animals are typical. What about a character who has a snake, parrot, iguana, or potbelly pig for a pet? Tour your zoo. Take pics. A few of the animals might resemble your character.
Distinct details about our stories are everywhere. Search out for real people in real situations. You never know what you might find.
How do you find distinct characters?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Her latest book, Deep Extraction, releases in April.
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