Hello, and welcome to Character Creation 101! I haven’t worked out our syllabus yet, so bear with me. It’ll take some time to work out what we’re going to do in here.
Or… maybe we could just take it one character at a time.
Yeah, let’s do that.
For the next four weeks, you and I will be exploring various character types and traits, and delving into how to write them well, no matter the story you’re working on. After all, characters are some of the most important parts of writing, whether you’re writing novels, novellas, or even short stories. If the characters are awful, no amount of amazing story will help you. Trust me on that.
Thus far, we’ve discussed protagonists, antagonists, and sidekicks, and started to get a bit more specific by talking about the dead man walking and the lover, but today, I have one of my least favorites to talk about. But, I suppose I’ll even talk about them.
The Silent Type
Who are they, you ask? Well, they’re an introvert. There’s not much else to it. They’re the character who doesn’t generally speak to or associate with the other characters in the book, despite how annoying that is to deal with. But they’re also a character that can speak volumes, when they finally say something. Anything.
How to create an introvert
Unless you’re an introvert, this is extremely difficult to manage. Especially if you’re writing in first person through a different character’s POV, it’s tricky to do right. Their personality can take on many forms, but they’re primarily very quiet and misunderstood, from the point of view of every other character in the story.
But how do we write them?
Use Your Noggin
Think, think, think. That’s what introverts do. They’re always thinking, usually two steps ahead of everyone else in the room, and they’re very, very smart. They usually know a great deal about everyone around them, even if everyone around them knows very little about the introvert in question. Often very trusted and trustworthy, and often in a great deal of scenes, without making a show of themselves. But that’s not easy to write, so I suggest you think through every single thing you have them do. If it’s not utterly necessary for them to speak in any given scene, keep them quiet—but keep them in the picture, no matter what, because like I said, they’re always there.
Use Your Head
Yes, these both essentially mean the same thing, but that ought to tell you how important it is. Use your head, man—because that’s exactly what your introvert will be doing. They think: they listen, they eavesdrop, and they never miss a beat. I’ve noticed that a lot of them tend to be snarky as well, so don’t be afraid to add things like that in, either. The point is, let your character be who they want to be. Let them be quiet and shy, let them be seen as an outsider or an oddity, let your readers think less of them. Why? Because that’s the way most introverts are, in reality.
They aren’t easy. I should know that. I’ve struggled to write them, and ended up writing them out of several stories, but I’ve also written very clear ones, and I’ve seen plenty of them that truly make a story what it is.
Be prepared to feel out of place, even if you are an introvert. It’s not in general nature to write them, as I’m sure you’ll have noticed if you’ve been writing for a while.
Push through. Keep going. Because the silent type is worth it, if you can get them right.
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