I wanted to call this post “My Favorite Character Tropes”, but I’m not actually listing my favorites, and I really couldn’t fit them into specific tropes.. This is a list of the traits that I find myself writing my characters into.
It’s something I’m trying to grow out of more and more as time goes on, but a lot of my characters tend to fit into certain profiles, or follow certain rules. To a certain extent, it’s comfortable. Repeating traits allows for familiarity, and lets me get into them more easily. Of course, it also means that some of my characters start to feel the same. This is something all authors do, to a certain extent. Find what works and stick with it, and use those familiar things as a framework to allow the exploration of more unique components.
There are probably a few more traits that run through my work, but since I can’t identify them it’s not really possible to change them up. So here’s my list of the things that show up in my work more often than not. (Beyond genre, which is more of a deliberate choice.)
Introversion. This is one that I’ve really tried to drop more and more, because it means that such characters tend to resemble me more and more in their thought patterns. Some of them it’s hard to say if I’m really in their heads and familiarity is helping, or if I’m just writing what I would think or say in that situation.
Subtle romances. Not going away any time soon. I like romance in my books, but I don’t like it when it’s the focus and I don’t like it when it’s a whirlwind (as in “what are you two doing together it’s only been two days of book time and you hated each other six hours ago?”).
Background roles. A real estate agent, a file clerk, an NPC: main characters in some of my novels. I like taking people in more subdued roles and dropping them at the edge of a metaphorical volcano and seeing what will happen. This one is less consistent and more based on what my brain finds fun to write.
Generic appearances. This is one that I just need to sit down and fix. I don’t like writing appearances. I had it beaten out of me by reading some very bad prose that over-described and then realizing that I had done something similar in one of my stories. So now, if anything, my problem is that I don’t describe my characters enough, not working in enough details that people can actually picture my characters. Which in turn leads to me not knowing what they look like either, so I generally settle for using a basic description generator (Seventh Sanctum has a good one!) and going with whichever result doesn’t sound ridiculous.
Almost narrator voice. It’s gotten worse as I’ve written more. I like commenting ironically within the structure of my own work, okay? (Also, may or may not have been influenced by me reading a lot of Terry Pratchett.) My next book, to change it up I’ll really need to step back and let my characters speak for themselves.
These are things that show up in my writing. What characteristics show up in the pieces you write, short or long? Anything strange? Let me know!