Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Using Habits

People fascinate me, they really do. I catch the bus home from work every day and it always amazes me the different ways that different people act. One of my particular favourite kinds of people to watch is smokers- why? Because it is always interesting to see how they act when they are craving a cigarette which they can't have yet. They are agitated all the time like there's an itch under their skin that just won't go away. It's intriguing to watch.

Yeah, I'm weird I know.

Another thing that I like to observe is how people act when they are trying to stop themselves from having an argument or when you see a couple of people sat next to each other who are acting very differently. You know when you're in a situation and you can just tell from their body language that one person is attracted to the other or when one person wants the other to just shut up?


Image courtesy of Google


So, let me get to the point.

One way to make your characters more realistic is to add in these little habits. Maybe a woman who is in a stressful job taps her foot or a man who is struck between an argument with his partner and mother may run his hands through his hair a lot or pinch the bridge of his nose.

It doesn't even have to be physical, maybe they repeat a phrase all of the time such as, "Like" or "Apparently".

Here's a great way to pick up some interesting habits people have:
  1. People watch. This is probably the most effective way to pick up on people's habits. Whether
    you're in a café or using public transport, watch what other people are doing and take note of it.
  2. Pay attention to what you do yourself. Do you often have people pick up on something that you do or say? With me, I often have people tell me I say 'basically' a lot when starting a sentence or wringing my hands when I'm nervous or excited. If you're not sure, ask the people around you- you may be surprised by their answer!
  3. See what other authors do. Can you think of any characters from books you've read with a famous habit? One that immediately springs to mind is Ron Weasley from Harry Potter always saying "Bloody Hell."
  4. Don't forget to use BAD habits too! Not all habits are good and if one gets on your nerves- use it! It could be a negative trait of a character or maybe a way to connect with the audience on a emotional level- maybe they hate the habit too and can sympathise with your protagonist!

And most of all, don't forget to have fun with it!

Lou x