What about the house as a whole. What color are the walls? All white? Pale pink? Green? Is each room a different color, some rooms multiple colors? What does that say about that character?
What kind of cars do they drive and why? A hybrid? A Hummer? A sedan? A luxury car? Is it new or second hand? Is it so old they hate driving it and they’re in constant fear of it breaking down in traffic? Does that make them avoid getting on the main highway in rush hour? Does it make them take the main roads instead of less traveled roads at night? Does it mean they always keep their cell phone with them? Does their Hummer or giant SUV make them feel powerful, invulnerable?
Also, consider quirks and habits. Does he carry a pack of cigarettes in his pocket, even though he gave up smoking ten years ago? Why? Does she never leave home without her planner, even when she’s not on her way to the office? Does he always answer his cell even when in a restaurant? When the traffic’s heavy, does she whip out the newspaper and read, peeking over the top occasionally as she inches forward?
When it comes to characters, quirks and habits can set them apart. But it’s also the things they carry with them or keep in their lives that can establish their “character” and make them come alive to the reader.
When it comes to your book or story, how did you establish the characters?
Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, freelance editor and writing coach. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its twelfth year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn – or catch her April 30, 2011 at Books 'n Authors 'n All That Jazz in Weatherford, Texas, where she and Sylvia Dickey Smith will be talking about “Jazzing Up Your Characters.”