Routines For Your Characters

I’ve talked about having your character exercise. Another way to make them more real is to show their routines. Everyone has one. Your protagonist can possess one as well. I’m not saying you need to show everything they do the second they wake up, but give an impression of it. Hint at it throughout the story. Characters should not exist only for the story. They were born. They grew up. All that took place before the story started, so they would have some things they do every day without thinking about them.

At some point in the story, you will need to pause the tale. To do so, you can show them get out of bed and go through their morning movements. Make them get out of bed and wash up. You don’t need to demonstrate each step they do. Show them as they brush their teeth and go to bed, or eat breakfast and so on. Either way, you are hinting at the person’s everyday life. That makes them more real to the reader, which is what you are aiming for.

Real people do things every day. They do the same things, in the same way every day. Part of your cast member’s mornings could include running on the beach. Maybe they take a spin or yoga class every week. Show them doing that. Maybe all they do is rise and hang over the coffeemaker waiting for the coffee to brew. Show it.

This is what I mean by routine. Create one for your fictional people as part of their development. Be as detailed as you like, but keep any mention of it to an absolute minimum. Our habits are transparent to us. Sit down and think about what you do every day, your daily activities will appear. They are invisible to us because they are tedious things we do every day, which is why you shouldn’t relate their day-to-day actions in minute detail.

“The alarm went off. John got up and put on in his running attire. He went downstairs and out through the front door. He ran in a large square of roads. He ran for five miles. He entered his front door, crossed to the stairs. He went upstairs to the bathroom. He took a shower, washing his body and hair.” This is what I mean about uninteresting.

What you want to so is allude to the habit not describe it too much. “John got up at his usual time, dressed in a yellow shirt and black shorts for the five mile run he did every morning. When he got back, he showered and put on in jeans and red tee-shirt.” That’s a lot less boring.

The point is your story’s people should have habitual behavior. You can show those behaviors, but only in flashes. Let your audience fill in the blanks. You can show a few details, but you don’t want to bore anyone with too many features of disinteresting facts. You can write down each one’s morning practice with lots of description in your notes, but show glimpses of the customs. Over the course of a novel, you could show the character’s entire activity without repeating an action, if it’s appropriate.

Establish a pattern for your player and show it in small glances to your readers. This will make the person in your story more real to those reading your story. That is your goal.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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