Developing Your Character

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #008.

What is the condition of the inside of his home?

The condition of the inside of a character’s home can reveal deep aspects of a character’s personality. Perhaps he’s organized and likes to have everything in its place. Perhaps he’s obsessive, freaking out if a single item is knocked out of line. Or perhaps he is lazy, having little to no desire to clean and maintain his home. In The Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Sheldon live in a state of organized chaos, while Penny’s apartment is nothing short of pure, messy disorganization. In the Iron Man series, Tony Stark is very obsessive about having everything in his house organized just right, even going as far as to make a big deal over the location of a giant stuffed rabbit.

Does he like his home?

Some characters may thrive in conditions in which other characters would simply be unable to function. On top of that, homes can come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, and while one character may love a spartan, one-bedroom flat, another may be unable to function in a house of less than three bedrooms. In The Big Bang Theory, Penny functions best when her apartment is a mess, because she knows the location of every item in it. Sheldon, however, can barely stand being in her apartment, and even goes as far as to break in late at night to organize it without Penny’s knowledge or permission.

Do others like his home?

The condition of a character’s home can have far-reaching effects on their social standing in the eyes of others, as well as their interactions with them. A neat, tidy, well-furnished home may attract many visitors, even freeloaders, while a messy, unorganized, trash-laden home would keep all but the closest of friends at bay. In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is incapable of putting up with the disorganized state of Penny’s apartment, and he even goes so far as to take it upon himself to organize it for her.

Where does he wish he lived?

It is very common for characters to wish that they could be somewhere other than where they currently are, regardless of whether they like or dislike their home, and regardless of whether it is a home that others envy or detest. In The Lord of the Rings, both Bilbo and, eventually, Frodo, realize that the Shire is too slow-paced for them, and they decide to journey with the elves to the other side of the sea. In La La Land, Mia Dolan moves to Los Angeles for the sole purpose of pursuing her dream of becoming an actress.

The Writer’s Everything

This article, as well as many others, have been featured in previous issues of my writing journal, The Writer’s Everything, in which I, along with occasional guest contributors, provide essays, guides, encouragement, motivation, writing prompts, character bio development kits, and anything else that can help you turn your dream of becoming a writer into a reality.

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