When I went to my first job interview when I was 22, I realized 2 things: 1. I shouldn’t have worn a short, silk skirt on a windy day and 2. I could use the information found on the walls of someone’s office to learn who they are, find common ground with them and get a job offer. In that first meeting, the man who interviewed me played golf, had more pride in his college degree than his honors within his company, was married with 2 kids, drank coffee, was a little messy yet didn’t use post-its. I noticed a lot of details. What I didn’t realize that day was that years later I would use that same technique in crafting characters.
A great way to show and not tell who a character really is beneath it all is to show their environment.
I love setting descriptions. I’ve even been known to indulge in a little interior design porn at times in my stories. (This is the point in the blog post where at least 2 of the bad girls are laughing and nodding in agreement. *grins*) But there can be value in the endless rambling about the hero or heroine’s favorite room in their home. Just like in my job interview that day, it shows who they are at their core. So I thought we would play a little game here today and only partially because I like pretty pictures of houses. What kind of person would live in the following homes? What does each space say about them?
Now, take a minute to think about the protagonist of your story. What idiosyncrasies could be found in their favorite room? How could you use their favorite setting to add character depth to your story? Try adding in a little detail to show who your characters are without telling who they are. Happy writing!
xx- E. Michels