Week Six. How in the blazing city has this gone so quickly?!? Somehow we’re at the last CHARACTER post and I feel like I just decided to do a series???
(Also, for future reference, the CHARACTER twitter chats will continue every other Saturday. This Saturday is one of them. Be there.)
Right. So this week we’re talking more about getting into your characters’ heads- by way of hobbies! I think a lot of character questionnaires include hobby-related questions, but it’s not always easy to answer that. Sure, that character likes to garden. That one likes cooking. That one enjoys collecting shells. But what does that really mean for the story?
Some hobbies are implemented very obviously in the story- take Violet Baudelaire, from A Series of Unfortunate Events, as an example. She invents things that turn out to be very helpful to her and to her siblings Klaus and Sunny. Her hobby of inventing moves the plot along and adds to it most wonderfully. But other hobbies aren’t in the forefront, and that’s where questions are going to be asked. Why is it important to know a character’s hobby if it’ll never surface?
Just because a hobby isn’t a major one in a plotline doesn’t mean it isn’t major to the character. For instance, in the Throne of Glass series, Celaena Sardothian is a huge clotheshorse. She loves looking nice and shopping, and that lends quite the effect to her personality. A deadly assassin with a penchant for clothing is quite different from ‘just’ an assassin. Somewhat scarier, to be honest. Her hobbies of shopping and of clothing change the perception other characters have of her and give a unique flavor to her character. It doesn’t necessarily move the plot along like Violet’s inventing, but it adds interest (as if we needed any more after the words ‘teenage assassin’, xD) and character, so to speak.
And then you have even more subtle hobbies. Hobbies that other characters might not even know about, hobbies that are mundane, that maybe the character hasn’t even done for a while. But they still change the character, don’t they? They have the knowledge of how to do it, the ability to do it, the memories of doing it, and, in some cases, the motivation to hide it from others. They don’t change the plot as obviously as the others, but they still do in very little ways.
A hobby is never something someone just puts for an answer on the ‘Hobbies’ question. You can’t be a knitter without knowing how to knit, or a cook without knowing the difference between cardamom and thyme, or a gardener with no frustration towards squirrels and baby bunnies. (they are cute, yeah, but the EAT EVERYTHING.)
In order to get closer to your characters, look into what they do in their free time. Read the books they like to read. Listen to the music they listen to. Go outside and help your neighbor plant their carrots. Everything you can possibly do to know your characters’ daily lives, do, because not only do you know how to live like them, but you have your own stories to add to it. Memories that the character might have of their past, quotes to use, role models that they might have. And who knows? In exploring their hobbies, you might find you really enjoy one and decide to pick it up yourself.