Ah yes… leisure time. Or extra time. Blogging time. Something I haven’t been able to find for many weeks now. Hence my absence from this blog as I’ve been working on getting my film company’s three active projects up and running. Still at it, but I also want to keep this blog from going into a deep freeze.
So here’s my next musing on character development:
Another important angle from which to view a character's relationship to his or her external world (see my previous posts in this series) is to look at how and with whom the character spends his or her leisure time. Although occupation will often influence leisure time activity, this is the one area where a person, at least to some extent, has the freedom to choose what he or she wants to do. As a result, you have the opportunity here to make choices that will truly individualize your characters.
How people amuse themselves in their off-hours reveals a great deal about them. And whom they choose to spend this time with reveals even more. Does your character jump at the chance to run off with the guys to play basketball or does he go off by himself and build model airplanes? What is her dream vacation? Who would she take with her?
Thinking about how your characters choose to spend their free time may seem at first like a minor consideration, one of those incidentals that can be picked up along the way, more than likely much further down the line. But think for a minute about when you're first introduced to someone. If, after an initial exchange, you determine that this is someone you'd like to get to know better, you start asking questions. And it's usually when you learn about what they do with their free time that you either start to really like this person or back off. It's this information that usually keys you into the kind of lasting connections, if any, there might be between you.
With your characters, it's no different. Making choices about their hobbies and free time activities--even if adjustments have to be made later--will give you a sharper focus on these personalities you're bringing into existence and how they will relate to each other.
And because inner drives and secret passions are often revealed in what people do when given the choice of how to spend their time, you’ll already be uncovering clues about what really makes them tick under the surface.
Again remember: given the approach to character development I’m laying out, you haven't gotten deep enough into the exploratory process to make definitive determinations at this point. These are initial choices. What's important here is to begin accumulating "material" you'll mold and shape into the personalities you’re creating. As you move deeper into character exploration, you'll see where adjustments have to be made. But nothing can develop and grow unless you simply begin the process.
Next: Your character’s internal world