Quiet, Weird Characters

I have been struggling with characters lately. During my rewrite, I’ve been introducing some of the characters who are important later on NOW, rather than waiting to introduce them when they’re needed. That way, they don’t come out of nowhere.

I have two major issues with characters.

Sunny day

ISSUE NO 1: I don’t know them well enough, so when I start writing them, they’re inconsistent or shallow.

This issue is the easier of the two. I can make up some scenes in my head, try to describe character traits to Raine, who is good at telling me what works and what doesn’t, and take some notes until I figure the person out. Then I can just go back into the story and edit the scenes with him/her until it works.

My second issue isn’t so easy.

ISSUE NO 2: I know the character’s traits, know how he acts, know how he talks, know how he thinks… but can’t make it all work in context. Like when I have a weird character. Trying to show that he’s weird without making him ridiculous is hard. Very very hard. You’d think it would be easy since I’m kind of weird, but no. My weird characters are an entirely different kind of weird than I am.

Another problem with issue 2 is that even though I know everything about these characters, I lack the ability to describe them effectively. Not because I don’t understand them, but because I don’t know how to explain it without giving a blow-by-blow, which kind of ruins the narrative. I can’t say, in the middle of a description, “He’s introverted, but NOT shy or insecure,” which is one of the traits I listed while describing the dude to Raine. Doesn’t exactly flow or sound pretty.

I don’t know if anyone has suggestions for this kind of problem. Mostly, I’m okay keeping my characters consistent once I know them well enough. That’s not a major issue. The main problem is finding ways to describe characters who are hard to describe. Ones who don’t make a lot of sense, are hard to understand, and can’t really be pigeonholed easily. Especially characters whose personality and beliefs aren’t made apparent in their interactions with other characters. The quiet ones.


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