Today’s blog is a bit about us as writers/readers, but also about our characters- a two-fer bonus! ;)When looking at character development I think of items as either micro or macro. The ones I call macro are the things the reader notices up front (and what you would notice when you first see someone) these are mostly looks, accents, etc. The micro ones are trickier, a reader may not even notice them—but they affect who the character is, and add layers to that character’s behavior and motivation. Kind of like most non-professional bakers would be hard pressed to name all the ingredients in a fancy muffin; the reader may not know what you put in to the character they just know what works…. or what doesn’t.
One of the big categories of micro development are personality traits. These play a lot into how a person will react to situations, how they interpret situations, and how others react to them.
One of the biggies in this field is Introversion/Extraversion.
Definition: Extraversion is one of the five core personality traits described in the big 5 theory of personality. This trait is characterized by sociability, assertiveness, emotional expressiveness and excitability. People who are high in this trait are often described as being outgoing and talkative, while those low in this trait are described as quiet and reserved (note- introversion is not the same as shy).
There has been a lot of attention paid as of late to the introverted side of things, and while there are a number of tests to see where you (or your character) fall in-between the two, probably two of the fastest and simplest are here:
(You’ll be glad to know in both of them I’m a hybrid- 50% score on each side ;))
It’s fun if you take these tests, then take them as your characters would, or even better—have a friend or beta reader who has read your book take them as if they were your main character.The idea is to see which group your character falls under, which one you thought they would fall under, and whether you need an overhaul of said character.
But mostly it’s another key to build a stronger, more “realistic” character. If we know why our character screens all phone calls, hangs around after work looking for folks going to happy hour, or views meetings with a sense of dread normally reserved for the dentist office, we will convey that much better to our readers- without having to come out and tell them.