What up, Artists? Let’s continue our discussion on building a character’s personality. Since we’ve already talked about differentiation, we can now go on to talk about all of the other parts of personality. I’m talking about traits, quirks, mannerisms, habits, preferences, and everything else. It’s a lot to take in so let’s try and get through this together.
First, let’s remember that age old rule, no one is perfect. That is to say that no one is perfectly anything. No one is purely any one thing. That variance, no matter how small, is what makes someone relatable. Whether it’s the protagonist who has a hard time letting go of loot in favor of saving a life, or an antagonist with a soft spot for children, it’s what gives depth to your character.
Many times we stubbornly cling to something we like about ourselves, regardless of hard times it may have caused us. I, for example, am very honest with people, and sometimes I come off callous, rude, or unsympathetic because of it. More times than I’d like to admit I’ve been told that all people want is a “yes man”, but I am no “yes man” and I refuse to be one. It gives me a sense of integrity that no matter what, I’ll be truthful, even if I’m comforting someone, and the people who are close to me like me as I am. They like my honesty and appreciate that part of my character. So what parts of your characters are most significant as to be what makes them who they are, who the reader views them as, and who you want them to be?
History often repeats itself. That includes a character’s history. If someone is often alone, it’s usually because they’ve made it that by keeping people at arms distance, or pushing others away. If a character is frequently in trouble, he probably lacks some necessary self-preservation. If he almost never finishes anything, it’s probably because of procrastination or poor time management. People work in patterns and habits, often ones that are hard to break. This creates consistency and even the most unpredictable of characters can portray that.
Remember that you can also portray personality through mannerisms. Someone who stands with his arms over his chest is usually defensive. Biting one’s lip shows uncertainty. Musicians often hum, whistle, finger drum on everything. Someone who is anxious might bite her nails, pick at her cuticles, avoid eye contact, play with her clothing. Curling your hair around your finger is usually seen as being flirty, and constantly checking your reflection is seen as being vain.
I hope this has been helpful for you! See you next week when I talk to you about speech and mannerisms.
Cara Rowen is a Los Angeles artist, poet and writer working on her first novel entitled Dust. A hard working member of Soapbox International’s Danger Team, with a strong dedication to the arts and giving back to the community, she has interest in geek culture and humor, fashion, baking, and music. Cara Rowen is known for her fun, bubbly, and sarcastic personality.
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