Giving Your Characters A Little Umph Articles / On Writing

You have done it, you wrote a book. Yay! The tough part is over. Well, not really. You have revising, editing, more editing, revising, editing… You get my point.

Okay, rewind a bit. I tend to do on tangents when I get excited.

You have done it, you wrote a book. Yay! But when you go back and reread and hopefully revise what you wrote, you find that something is lacking. Your plot is spot on, your continuity is great, and your pacing is smooth. Your characters are well rounded but maybe something feels like it’s missing. They’re not hitting the mark and you’re at a loss as to how to fix it. It may be that little quirk or trait that makes your character special and most importantly memorable to your reader that’s missing.

What can you do to fix this? Sometimes it can be as simple as having your main female protag flip her hair over her shoulder when she’s nervous or as complicated as your male protag getting a severe case of eye twitches when he’s close to the hair-flipping female. However funny or serious you want it, the point is that you make a special trait the character’s own.

I have read a series by R.L Mathewson called the Neighbor From Hell series centered around the Bradford family who are notorious for eating anything and everything in sight and not gaining an ounce. It’s a family trait and one all the men seem to possess. In the books the hard, gruff male characters turn into endearing puppy dogs when they can’t hide their food addictions or “sweet tooths”. It’s not a big thing, but do you see how I remembered that funny detail that Mathewson put in her books? It lasted. Using her  model as an example and inserting a special characteristic into your players in your book could help readers remember your characters as well.

Try it out. Give your best friend character  hair like Rapunzel or the evil boss a passion for pinstripe suits. Maybe your main character can’t swear and says funny terms “shut the front door” instead of the same old used curse words. Whatever you choose, make your character stand out.

What special trait or quality have you given some of your characters?


  1. Anne Hammond Says: May 7, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Are you just checking whether we’re reading carefully: “You’re plot is spot on” seems like one of those hard-to-spot little errors you’ve been talking about! But don’t panic – our local newspaper leaves you for dead!

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