A funny thing happened while making my bed this morning. As I made a precise hospital corner, I remembered where I learned to secure a sheet in such a manner…Summer camp. Inspections were performed, and I remember taking pride in winning an award for the neatest bed. I think of those summer camp days whenever I change the sheets. Warm sunny days, playing kickball with new friends, craft time, backwards day, all of it comes back and makes me smile.
Isn’t it odd the way simple acts can trigger such fond memories. On the flip side some simple acts trigger some not so fond memories. Like finding a HUGE spider beneath a bathroom rug. *shivers*
What the heck does this have to with writing characters? Every character I write has a little bit of me in them. Some aspect of my personality or someone I know is included in my character’s profile. Having one of my female characters have this particular memory of being taught how to make a hospital corner with a sheet would be a great way to make her more real to my readers. She can be a super bad a** heroine staying in a hotel room cleaning her Glock, and she spots a hospital corner on the bed. For a brief moment she’s transported to a happier time in her life when things were far less stressful, and she wasn’t about to take the life of a super villain. It might also remind her of the reason she’s in her present situation to begin with. Perhaps she’s avenging the death of a sister who attended camp with her so many years ago.
Things don’t have to be that dramatic. It works well for any plot in any genre. Giving your characters memories, flaws, quirks, even something as small as a scar can add a level of depth that you wouldn’t get otherwise. Draw from your own experiences in life and figure out a way to weave that into your character’s personality. Taking the time to develop your characters to that level will enhance both the writing and the reading experience of the story.
Have fun with it. Dig deep and explore some of your own experiences and how they could enhance your characters.
Let me know what you come up with.