Characters: Traits and Behaviors

Characters are tough to write at times. They are more than just objects to move the story and plot forward. They are meant to be so much more. They are the author’s opportunity to create and execute an array of personalities that can interact in a story. The hardest thing to remember sometimes is that characters are people. Which means they should act like people.

The key to traits is keeping them real. Some people are worriers, others could care less. For every trait tat you can imagine there is a scale as to where each character falls. Each trait helps make a character feel more real and that is important for all sorts of reasons. Even the most boring person has a ton of traits. When you create a character you want them to be interesting, so knowing the traits is important.

Getting characters to feel like people isn’t easy because it’s more than just traits. it’s also behaviors. Characters like people behave differently. These behaviors are often influenced by traits, but also by their histories. When you combine traits with history you find various behaviors beginning to happen. Nervous ticks that arise because of a traumatic event. Phrases that get repeated due to positive encouragement. All sorts of little behaviors arise and make a character feel whole. There isn’t a person on Earth who hasn’t laughed or tried to crack a joke. Not a person who hasn’t shed a tear. There are things that everyone does. And based on a trait and the events before a character you can get an idea of how they will behave. There are people who cry a lot, so why not let a character do so. There are people who suck in their pain and hide it from others. Everyone is unique as should every character. The more ranged a set of characters with different personalities and behaviors, the more interesting a scenario can play out.

Leaving Traits and Behaviors Out
When you encounter characters that are flat. Characters that ignore how they should act for themselves in favor of how they should act for story you find an issue. Those characters tend to be less endearing. They tend to have an issue with relating to real people because they don’t act like real people. Rather than feeling like extensions and glimpses into a completely different world. They seem more like false objects. And characters should feel like people. Nothing is worse than a book where characters don’t feel real.

How do you feel about characters who are behaviorless?


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