Creating Characters – part 9

by juliusmsanz

Let’s continue to talk about characters.

There’s one very simple thing you can say about your character: he/she’s either an introvert or an extrovert. Sounds pretty basic right? Hold the phone then, because there’s a whole lot to talk about.

When I used to think about introverts and extroverts I tended to categorize both in a very simple fashion: one group of people has it easier when dealing with others, and the other group struggles. Everybody knows it doesn’t happen that way. I’m an introvert but I can communicate very well and, despite getting nervous on certain occasions, I can handle some crowds. On the other hand I know an extrovert that cannot stop getting to know more people and needs to be heavily involved in social situations, but sometimes shies away from contact.

There are even degrees amongst introverts and extroverts.

One deciding factor however is I believe introverts don’t feel the need to be in constant communication. It seems we are facing pressure, but I believe it’s the other way around. In my group of friends I’m one of the funniest guys around, but I also need my own personal space. You could say an extrovert likes to go to parties and be more proactive, be on the center stage so to speak. An introvert would lean more towards the backstage, enjoying some quiet evenings. It’s not all about being able to communicate and speak in public and all that crap. I’ll give you another life example: I get tired sometimes. There was one party I went to, I had somewhat of a good time, laughed, talked, but after a while I had to leave, because that amount of time was enough for me. I could force myself to stay longer, but what good would that do to me? Nothing. So when people moved the party to another place I said my goodbyes and went home. I don’t feel pressured to stay in those events nowadays.

Both introverts and extroverts have many layers, it would be boring if everybody was expected to act the exact same way.

Your character may be an introvert, but that does not mean he/she’s a shut-in and is completely isolated from society. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: characters aren’t that different from real people, so you have to make sure you create them with that in mind. If my character prefers to spend the nights at home watching movies or reading he may be an introvert, but he/she is never going to be 100% introverted. The character could be spending those nights with a girlfriend/boyfriend.

And this brings me to another interesting point. You see it categorized all the time in the media: the introvert who is inept when dealing with romance, the loser, and many other stereotypes. Everybody knows that being introverted does not equal to being a loser or not having a healthy relationship, but it’s easy to assume that. An introvert may have a little bit more difficulty starting things up, sure, but that means nothing.

What does this mean in terms of psychology? Well, we could spend that day here, and still not get to a good conclusion. What you have to do is ask one very simple question:

Why?

Why does the character prefer quiet nights? Maybe he/she had some trouble in the past and it is reflecting in the present? Maybe he/she never felt the appeal others felt? Maybe he/she feels that reading a book is more productive? The possibilities are endless. And if one thinks about his/her life, then one can start to see things a little bit more clear. I also said this before: we need to truly know our characters, perhaps even more than we know ourselves. I know it is difficult, but it’s all about asking questions, and the more questions you ask and answer the more you truly know about your characters.

That is all for today, hope you’re enjoying these posts.

Have a nice day!

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