One good way to get a handle on your characters is to figure out how they start their days. Sit down and come up with a morning routine for each of them. It can help you to bring them alive. Let’s take Samantha Gold, a character I just made up for this blog. She’s just a name. Let’s see how she starts her day.
A sleepy Sam gazed at her face in the mirror. After running a hand through her medium length brown hair, she shed her pajamas and got into the shower. The water slapped her awake. Stepping out of the shower she toweled her hair dry and brushed her teeth. Down in her kitchen, she poured her first cup of coffee of the day and read the news on her phone.
You get the idea. What do we know about Samantha Gold? She has medium length brown hair. She is not a morning person and she wears pajamas. Not bad for five sentences. Let’s do the same for Lucy Drucker, another character with nothing to her but a name.
Lucy stood on her patio, black hair pulled back in a ponytail. She bent double and touched the yoga mat and stepped back to plank pose. She moved from that to the top of a push up then lowered to her belly and bent back into cobra. From there, she moved to Downward Facing Dog before rising to her feet to see the sun peaking over the mountains.
We’ve learned a bit about Lucy there. She does yoga outside at dawn. She has black hair long enough to put in a ponytail. She lives somewhere where she can see mountains. Again, we learned all that in just four sentences. We could expand on that but I think I’ve made my point.
Think about your own morning routine. You can lend portions of it to your characters. You can create them out of your imagination. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a method of bringing your characters to life. You could make your characters healthy minded or maybe they wake up, shower, dress and go out to breakfast every morning. Do they go for a run? Or do they sit on their porches and read the newspaper?
Whether you would do the morning routine is immaterial. You only need to hint your character does it every day, and poof! They become more real. You could make them do the morning routine you wish you had the discipline to do.
Just think about what you do in the mornings. Then use some of those things for your character’s morning routines. Make sure you keep to things your character would do. Don’t have one go running every morning and be a junk food junkie. Well, I suppose you could have the character rationalize the junk food he or she eats is fine because the character ran that morning.
While writing Sam’s morning routine, I got the sense that she is quite conscious of her looks. But I didn’t get the feeling she was particularly into health food. But Lucy makes me think of someone who is a vegetarian. She doesn’t have to be, but she could be. Sam could be as well, but if so, I think she’d drink tea rather than coffee. Developing a morning routine for your character can bring them to life to you and thus to your readers. Give it a try sometime and see how it works for you.