Real Life Needs To Happen To Your Characters

Can you imagine what it would be like living in a perfect world? You wouldn’t get sick. You wouldn’t have to go to school. You wouldn’t be forced to work. You would fall in love with the perfect match. You would learn all the things you want to learn. And you would experience a peaceful death at the end of it all.

Too bad, that’s not the case in this crazy thing we call life.

As an author, you should remember your characters are simply living their own life. It may be a fictional story, but it is their life. Obviously, there are some limits to these events because you may not write stories that only feature the present day in the present world. 

If you are writing a story about Alien Bruce on planet Venus, it would be interesting to share details about the usual events which occur in Alien Bruce’s life. We’re simple humans so we don’t know what you’re seeing occur on Venus. The facts you share with us could be simple enough to only share a small fact about the alien or they might be large enough to be earn their own chapter. 

Here are some little things you might want to consider placing in your story…

1. Describing the trip to your character’s destination(s)

I’m not saying you should write full detail about every journey your characters take. You don’t need to write a step by step discription about the trip he took over to his neighbor’s house. At least, not in most cases. But it could be a moment to provide your readers with some of your character’s thoughts in the moment. 

I mean, when you visit your neighbor you don’t automatically turn off all your thoughts, do you? Share with your readers what your main man is thinking about as he walks. The walk could provide him with a bit of time to think about the larger point of your story or maybe there’s more behind their visit. 

Tim is ready to draw a line because his neighbor has been a constant thorn in his side. But your readers need to know what brought on this annoyance. You could use his walk over to his neighbor’s house as a moment to allow for a quick explanation of the reasons brehind his annoyance.

If something might hold even the slightest bit of importance, make sure you squeeze it in. You should start out in rough draft mode anyway. Things can always be removed.

2. You don’t want to starve your characters

It may seem kind of foolish to consider featuring a meal in your novel, but it would also be foolish not to have them eat. The only exception would be if you create fantasy characters holding special circumstances. If that’s the case, you should address that fact whenever you have the best opportunity. 

Unless your characters are those unique beings, you better feed them. 

I don’t think you should go on and describe every meal in serious detail, but mention food every now and again so you don’t kill them off with starvation. Mention Fenris’s regret because he only ate a bagel for breakfast. You didn’t go into detail about the whole meal but you did let your reader know he is human and needs to eat. We all have to eat and you shouldn’t starve you characters simply to progress you story.

3. We all have responsibilities. No matter the age.

This is a simple factor. If your story is about an adult then they most likely have a job. This job could be something as common as a secretary for a big business to something as involved as a stay-at-home mom. You want your readers to believe the story is real so you need to include even the simplest of details about what your characters do outside of the main storyline. (Assuming your story isn’t about their responsibilities). 

This fact is true even if you’re writing a novel about a teenager or young adult. They have responsibilities in life just like your major, adult characters. They may be fighting through their final year as a senior in high school or they could be getting ready for the start of their freshman year in college.

The most casual responsibilities should be addressed in some way or other so your characters and their story feel realistic.

4. Bathroom break!

Alright, this is a factor you don’t need to describe in extreme detail, but you can’t imagine your creation will feel real if you don’t let them relieve themnselves. Of course, a restroom break could also provide a chance for you to explain a situation in more detail without jumping around between two different storylines.

Let’s say Julie Brown is at a party with her friends celebrating their senior year. Julie is holding a detailed conversation with Betty about Joe’s recent breakup. Everything is going well until another student walks in. Your main character, Julie notices Rebecca walking into the party. Suddenly, Julie is extremely unconforatble and your reader doesn’t know why. You want to explain the awkward feeling, but you don’t want to stop their conversation to explain the new feeling. Of course, two events can occur at the same time in your novel, but you know the girls’ conversation isn’t as important as Julie’s new situation. You need to get Julie away to describe her feelings. How can you do this?

“One sec, where’s the restroom?” Julie asked with a hand over her face as if she were embarrassed to interrupt her friend’s story with such a silly question.

It’s a slight cop out and I’m sure you can come up with a better way to make it work, but it’s an easy way to open up a door for you to explain the entire situation. You send your character to the restroom not because she seriously has to go (eventhough she may go), but because this will provide a free moment to explain the awkward kiss Julie shared with Rebecca through truth or dare two weeks ago. Then your readers will be able to understand why Julie was so uncomfortable.

5. Build up the relationships

Before you panic, I’m not simply talking about romantic relationships. Your novel may not touch any serious relationship in the romantic department, but your characters should have friends and family. I mean, there are always exceptions to this rule, but make some social interactions occur because you don’t want to bore your readers. Create drama between characters, make people fall in love, destroy friendships, create new friendships. You’re the author. You have the power.

These five events are simple enough moments we don’t think to include in our stories because they are just that. Simple. Except, you hold the power to make these events more than simple chapter fillers. You are the author. You are in control. Make your story real and enjoyable.

Share some of your thoughts in the comments below!

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