Monday, March 9, 2015

Hobbies and Interests of Characters

So one of the easiest ways to flesh out our characters is to give them hobbies and interests. If you're a
fan of character sheets, you've probably filled out a list of these numerous times. But in case you haven't here's some tips to help!

Start with yourself
Found on this Tumblr
I have no idea what it is, but its cool
If you're having trouble identifying a character's hobbies and interests, start listing off your own (using ourselves as a character can be a good starter/reference). Using myself as an example, (start with at least five; I use more in this list but that's because I'm exploring lots of interests and hobbies I have to give an example of the range and depth people can have. People can always have more or less though).

Interests -> Hobbies

  • Rocks/Geology
  • Rabbits/Dogs/Cats/Pets/Animals
  • Blogging
  • Art/Design
  • Writing
  • Archery
  • Sword fighting
  • History
  • Violin
  • Badminton
  • Roller Skating
  • Cooking
  • Jewelry
  • World Mythology
  • Books
  • Astronomy
  • Social media
  • Dancing
  • Social justice issues
  • Pop culture
  • Photography
Therefore, if I was a character, I might say that my character collects rocks, advocates and works at a pet shelter, runs a blog, maybe works in a library, studies English, goes stargazing, and uses photojournalism to document social issues (I don't really do all of those). 

Ask your friends/family
See what kinds of things people are interested in. Better yet, ask your friends/family what they studied in college, planning to study, or are studying and why. Often there's some other reason behind that that will give you a big clue into their personality.
A small, but adorable Lionhead rabbit
Found on Daily Rabbits Tumblr

Even if they haven't gone to college, ask what they do outside of work/school. What do they follow on social media and why? 

Read other books
This should be a fairly obvious one, but its always a good idea to read other books (especially if you're doing a genre like science fiction/fantasy) and see what kinds of hobbies their characters have. One book I read had a character who designed perfume and aspired to open up her own perfume shop. That was pretty interesting. 

Browse lists of college majors
This might seem like a fairly odd one, but trying to think about what your character might study in college and why can tell you a lot about their personality. Why would they choose that major and would they get a minor in anything else or double major perhaps? What clubs or organizations would they join?

Browse Social Media Suggestions
Often enough when you sign up for a social media site like Tumblr or Twitter, they'll suggest sites, people, and other random stuff for you to follow that you might be interested in. Take a look at these different categories and their resulting suggestions and see if anything might be something your character might follow. 

Writing Tip #1
Not only do hobbies and interests help flesh out a character, but its even better if you can find a way to tie in that hobby or interest in with the story! You don't have to do this for every hobby or interest, but it'll lend the personality to have a greater plot advantage. You can mention a hobby or interest in passing, but it helps to have at least one or two interests or hobbies come up more than once and in greater detail.

For example, you could have a character on a space ship who is really into studying the stars they pass by. Say one day their ship goes off course and they're lost. Well maybe the character can use her knowledge of astronomy to help them get back on course before their ship explodes! 

Writing Tip #2: Think about your Genre
Picture found here
I found this pretty amusing
This ties in with #1, but I wanted to stress how you should not only try and tie their interests in with the plot, but make sure it makes sense for the genre. 

Choosing hobbies and interests of your characters can greatly depend on the genre of your story. If you're writing a historical fiction set in Medieval Europe, your character won't have any hobbies related to football or tennis because those weren't invented yet! (That I know of). Or say you're writing a science fiction story set on a different planet, they might not have any knowledge of our games.

Say you do write a story based on say, Japan (cause that's my new favorite topic), your character might be really interested in poetry or tea. They might even have an interest in gardening. They could even have an interest in travel writing. Or say your character is very religious, they might know a lot about Buddhism and might write poetry based off on that. 

Say you write a fantasy story, your character might know how to sword fight and could be really interested in different kinds of swords. They might even have a collection of daggers or be able to recognize a different swordsmith's handiwork on the spot. And then geek out about it.

If they're really interested in magic, they could be really interested in past wizards or in weird, obscure spells. They could study different animals to use as familiars or be interested in biology as a result. Maybe they make potions? They might be a real environmentalist nerd.

Writing Tip #3: Make sense for the Character
Make it make sense for the character. One of the reasons you're writing out a list of hobbies and interests is so that you know your character better. But you should make sure not to throw in random hobbies for the sake of it. Maybe think about what you already know about the character or wait until you've written enough/plotted enough for the story before you think about these. 

Its important to make sure your characters don't have random hobbies just for the sake of giving them one. While lots of people have interests and hobbies unrelated to what they really might be interested in (for example, a biologist might also be really interested in philosophy), your story and characters will seem more authentic if you choose a hobby or interest that makes sense for that character.

Whatever you choose, your character should really seem to care about the topic or know enough that they won't come off as ridiculous. People's hobbies and interests usually come from a reason, they don't just randomly appear. 

For example, I've always been really into rock collecting because I like the way that no one rock is the same and that sometimes they have really interesting shapes, patterns, and textures. I like studying them and picking them up and comparing them. 

I got into jewelry because at a young age I liked making patterns and I knew that you could use gemstones in jewelry. So I would go to the story and pick out shiny beads and cool, interesting beads and string them together in a pattern. 

Picture found here
My favorite kind of rose
I got into astronomy and archery because of stories I started writing and wanted to do research on them. I've also always been fascinated with how stars are so far away, yet we can still see their light on earth and how earth is actually a giant rock floating in space. Also, nebulae and galaxies can form beautiful, glowing patterns and shapes. 

I think I got into violins because I've always really loved the sounds they make and how elegant and cool people look when they play it. Also, Lindsey Stirling dances while she plays. That's pretty cool. I've also really loved dancing (having a bad back kinda ruins that though), and the thought of people combining those is really great. 

No matter what your character's hobbies and interests are...have fun with it! Provided your character is interested in something enough, you'll want to do enough research on that subject so that your character (and you) won't come off as silly. So my recommendation is to pick something that you're at least semi interested in or something you won't mind terribly looking into. 


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Resource List: Japan

So I've decided to start a series on different topics where I compile a list of resources. This week I'll be featuring Japan (from the Heian Period to the Tokugawa period mostly).

Note: I started off a lot of my research using Wikipedia, but as a rule, one should *never* rely solely on Wikipedia. Its a good starting point and sometimes it has information on things you may have trouble finding else where. But its also a good resource for looking up stuff and finding out different topics you can look up elsewhere.

Electronic Resources: Websites
Costume History of the Tale of Genji

Interactive Brush Painting

Japanese Art

PBS- Enter Edo

PBS-Enter Edo- Resources/Bibliography

PBS-Enter Edo- Electronic Resources

Education: Asian Art: Resources  (On Japan; Selected College level and beyond)

Samurai Archives

Ancient Scripts- Japanese

Omniglot- Japanese (With links to specific forms of Japanese writing and scripts)

Behind The Name- Japanese Names

Electronic Resources: Online PDFs/Books/Textbooks
Women in Early Fuedul Japan (Book is not free although its fairly cheap for the downloadable book)

Online Textbook: Topics in Japanese Cultural History

Encycloedia Mythica: Japanese Mythology

Project Gutenberg- Japan (Queried Japan; Free old online books and papers related to Japan)

Britannica- Japan

Electronic Resources: Video/Pictures
Khan Academy- Japanese Art

A-Z Picture Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist and Shinto Deities and Mythology

Youtube-Japan: History of Japan's Ancient and Modern Empire

Youtube- BBC Geisha Girl

Youtube- Traditional Dance by Geisha

Youtube- Traditional Japanese Dance by Maiko

How to wear Japanese Hakama (looked this up cause I was confused how the hakama "pants" worked with a kimono).

Spotify Link- Memoirs of a Geisha Album

Spotify Link- Japanese Koto Music

Spotify Link- Japanese Relaxation Music

Devinart- Hanami Mai's Tutorials (These are drawing reference tutorials, but when you zoom in on them, they're also very helpful references for writers)

Learn Japanese 101 Podcasts

Printed resources: Books
Japanese Popular Prints: From Votive Slips to Playing Cards by Rebecca Salter

As the Japanese See It: Past and Present Compiled and Edited by Michiko Y. Aoki and Margaret B. Dardess

The Japanese Mind by Robert C. Christopher

Volume One: Sources of Japanese Tradition: From Earliest Times to 1600 Compiled by WM. Theodore de Bary, Donald Keene, George Tanabe, and Paul Varley

Volume Two: Sources of Japanese Tradition: 1600 to 2000 Compiled by WM Theodore de Bary, Carol Gluck, and Arthur E. Tiedemann

The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John and Caitlin Matthews

Twelve Doors to Japan by John Whitney Hall and Richard K. Beardsley

The Floating World by James A. Michener

Japan: An Interpretation by Lafacadio Hearn

Japanese Culture: 3rd Edition by H. Paul Varley

All-Japan: The Catalogue of Everything Japanese Introduction by Oliver Statler

The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse Translated with an Introduction by Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite

Understanding Shinto by C. Scott Littleton

Anthology of Japanese Literature Compiled and Edited by Donald Keene

The Essence of Shinto: Japan's Spirtual Heart by Motohisa Yamakage

Religion in Japanese History by Joseph, Kitagawa

Folk Religion in Japan by Ichiro Hori

Exploring Japaneseness: On Japanese Enactments of Culture and Consciousness Edited by Ray T. Donahue

Landscape Gardening in Japan by Joseph Conder

Japanese Minorities: Burakumin, Koreans, Ainu, and Okinawans by Prof. George A. De Vos and William O Wetherall; Updated by Kaye Stearman

Cooking of Japan by Rafael Steinberg

Japanese Houses; Patterns for Living by Kiyoyuki Nishihara

Legends in Japanese Art by Henri L Joly

Tokugawa Japan : the social and economic antecedents of modern Japan edited by Chie Nakane and Shinzabur Oishi ; translation edited by Conrad Totman.

A daughter of the samurai Sugimoto, Etsu (Inagaki)

The kimono mind. Rudofsky, Bernard

Resources on Kitsune (Including this for the sake of all the research done on these fascinating mythical creatures)

Kitsune (Book)

Kitsune, Kumiho, Huli Jing, Fox: Fox Spirits From Asia

Inari and the Kitsune

Kitsune Japanese Myths

Foxtrot's research on Kitsune

Wikifur- Kitsune Mythology

Watt Martin: Kitsune- Coyotes of the East



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