Characters are people, and like people, they should have unique qualities to them that help them stand apart from anyone around them. This might be a bad habit, or a particular turn of phrase, but something should help your characters stand out. A quirk or a habit they have.
Building these quirks and habits doesn’t need to be hard. It also makes characterization easier when you have a bank of features to fall back on for each character.
As an exercise: To help you build a bank of features, make a list of characters you want to flesh out more and answer these questions:
- What’s one bad habit they have?
- What’s one item they always have on them?
- What do they call their grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents? Which set of grandparents gets fun names like Grammy and Gramps, and which ones get Grandad and Grandmom?
- What is their favorite treat?
- What do they do when they’re nervous? (Think about this one carefully, some people stammer, others fidget, and some people even flush when they’re nervous. Your characters should reflect this.)
- How do they react to being shouted at suddenly? (Again, think about this, but don’t forget to reflect on their background. Someone who’s been abused will react very differently to someone who’s grown up in a safe, noisy household).
- What are they likely to collect? Books, stamps, figurines, coins, stuffed animals, etc.
- What do they usually say to greet someone?
- What do they say when they’re saying goodbye to a friend?
- How do they communicate affection without speaking?