We all talk about the sheer necessity to create characters that don't appear cardboard, that are fleshed out, that generally feel like real flesh-and-blood, living, breathing people (regardless of your character's species or nature) with personalities that ring true to the audience.
There are several elements that contribute to that, from constructing a solid backstory to making sure you let them have flaws to giving them special quirks- all things we've talked about in newsposts in the past.
One more that I think is generally less mentioned but very efficient is to allow your characters to have hobbies- hobbies you KNOW about, and have pictured them engaging in.
It doesn't matter if you get a chance to show them engaging in their hobbies ‘on camera’- if it's an action or adventure, if what they're going through is extraordinary, chances are they won't have time or energy or want to engage in their hobby. When a bomb is ticking down to zero, nobody wants to pick up their embroidery work no matter how passionate they are about it.
So, why is it helpful to take the time to consider what your characters like to do in their off time if you may never get to show it?
It is helpful because a person's hobby is often telltale of aspects of their personality, their interests and their approach (or reaction) to the world and their experiences. Knowing it will help you as a writer to write them more realistically in everything else they do.
A real life example is, in my opinion, telltale: Bob Ross mentions in one of his soothing painting sessions that when he was in the army, he would return home, he'd sit down and paint his world where there was "no hassle, nobody was yelling, everything was good. Nobody was gonna get shot or hurt, not in world." Bob Ross' hobby and the reason why he needed and engaged in it reveals a lot about how he felt and how he coped with his experiences in the army.
In the same vein, your character's hobby will reveal something about them- so take the time to think about it, and then take the time to explain why they do it once you've pictured them engaging in something. And that will have immediately made your character have more depth, and possibly more backstory than when you started the exercise.
So what are your characters' hobbies?
Many thanks to Pit Face for finding me the Bob Ross episode I needed!
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, July 28, 2018
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