Writing Exercise- Character Traits- Lesson 4, Personal Habits

Character Traits- Lesson 4, Personal Habits

We move on to the little things that define a personality. Like rubbing the grain with a cloth and wax to define a piece of wood, these traits will complete the characters overall look.  If you are writing a movie, this is a really important step for casting. Continue to work on your one character and don’t give up now.
Personal Habits
  1. Education
Third grade level, high school, GED, college, trade school or all the way to MD (or worse- a

lawyer). There are many layers to education and they do make us who we are. If you didn’t learn to get stoned and kiss a girl in college, then you learned it in the school of hard knocks. I left law school to join the circus, and that certainly shaped who I became (a bendy girl that likes to argue).

  1. Hobbies
What do they do for fun? Our hobbies define and relax us. They tend to morph and change over time, but give your character an outlet that is diverse and speaks well to the person they are. A truck driver that likes to make beaded necklaces? A ballerina that likes to shoot guns? A doctor who plays competition Frisbee?
  1. Physical appearance
We did this exercise a bit in the first lesson, but I want you to get more specific. Have they dyed their hair or shaved their head? Does a tall person slump or a short person walk on their toes? Explain their appearance like you would to a police sketch artist.
  1. Clothes
The clothes we wear are the first impression we make. If your shoes are scuffed, you are less likely to get a job. Are they poor but scour the thrift stores for expensive clothes? Are they rich but dress like a homeless bum? Do they only wear black or pink or Muumuus? Do they always wear sexy underthings or go commando?
  1. Favorite foods or hated foods
What we like for food stems more from personality and some child hood believes. If you grew up on a farm, you are less likely to eat fast food. Did they grow up with poor eating habits and are trying to expand their palate, or do they refuse to try anything new?  Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or meat and potato eater? Pick out their preferred cuisine and least favorite and tell why.
  1. Fears
Are they afraid of the dark, a spider or heights? Are they sure they will never be loved or have sex? These irrational fears are a driving force and also a way to get your character into their third act ahaaaa moment. Real fears must always be faced to change and grow, so keep that in mind. Maybe real and perceived fears? If a zookeeper is afraid of being eating by a lion, this may be a real fear. If an account is afraid of the same it is ludicrous.

  1. Most hated activities
We all have those activities that we loath for some unexplained reason. Mine is empting the dishwasher, folding laundry and moving. We have kept harmony in our house by trading hated activities. Not sure where they come from, but make a list of all the petty things all the way to important (like not paying taxes or sleeping).

  1. Most enjoyed activities
This is something that brings them consistent joy, like surfing or gardening. An activity they would never complain about and will stop at nothing to get to do. Again, make a list of petty to important (like eating cake to having sex).
  1. Deepest secret or wildest fantasy
This is something they keep secret and never tell the world (except in the throws of wild passion with a new love). This maybe the driving force in their character growth so make it interesting and distinctive. Like a girl from Kansas that wants to be on her own, finds out of dangerous the real world is and then just wants to go home. Or a young orphan on a desert planet that wants to fight the Empire.
  1. Closest friend
As much as we hate to admit it to our mothers, our friends do make up a big part of our personality. Make their best friend opposite enough to be interesting, but alike enough to be plausible.
  1. Attitude towards self and others
How one feels about their self is usually how they see the world. It is called transference. Really insecure people usually accuse others of the same motion; dishonest people think everyone is lying. How does your character FEEL about themselves and how does it come out in the real world interactions.
  1. Attitude towards friendships, sex, love, family
The attitude we have about the people and interactions in our life seldom a mired in reality. I am convinced that a nemesis is always coming for me, yet there really never is any real threat, my mind has made up one to keep me distracted.  If someone feels blessed and lucky versus under siege and overwhelmed, it makes a completely different profile. These attitudes maybe different for each category and it does make them more interesting
  1. Sense of humor
What I consider to be the world’s most important tool. We use humor for everything in my family from disciplining our kids to how we handle stress. My therapist thinks I am slightly insane because I see the humor in every situation. Someone whom does not have a pronounced sense of humor is a very different beast. This is tracked in layers, so map out their funny bone.
Writing Exercise- Write about your favorite pet and the one thing that that pet gave to you.

Word Count 100-500
(The entire Character lesson plan will be available after for one complete download and I do teach this 4-hour class live in person email me for the entire Character Lesson or to find out about up coming classes).