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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday Workout: Get a Life!

Let's be honest, most books are about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. From soccer moms who fight vampires to ordinary children who stop wicked witches the average novel is about the average person.

I love this.

I don't love characters whose only defining characteristic is that they have saved the world. It's cool and all, but it doesn't make the character real. It doesn't bring them alive.


Start with spending ten minutes today observing someone. It doesn't matter if it's your neighbor, boss, or roommate, but watch them. Notice the quirks they have. Notice things they do different than you. Maybe they load the dishwasher differently, write with a different hand, or insist on wearing mismatched socks (that would be my kids).

Then make a list of 5 traits your main character has that makes them stand out just a little. Maybe they're part of the slow food movement. Maybe they do yoga. Maybe they are an avid bird watcher. But give your character a quirk before they fall prey to the malaise of sameness and become a lurching, brain gnawing, monster.

*OK, yes, the link above is not to the slow food movement. Here's the real link. I'm afraid my sense of humor has gotten the better of me today.


  1. And what's wrong with mismatched socks? They rule! I avoid wearing matching ones as much as I can.

  2. This is a great exercise. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Thanks for the reminder to observe. Hmmm, now who will I pick as my prey....