Using Traditions To Show Character

Using traditions to show character

When I begin to write a new character I look at her history, roots and character defects as well as good qualities to get to know her better. And I ask myself what instances have happened that show me who she is and how she thinks. Most times I base some of this on people I know, on myself and through observation of strangers and their reactions. Now I have begun to look at traditions.

I remembered a tradition that I, my mother and a good friend used to have. We’d eat at one of the gourmet rooms every Easter Sunday as a special treat to ourselves. We would start looking forward to it at least a month in advance and on Easter Sunday we’d get dressed up and splurge on rich, decadent creations and pretty much just enjoy ourselves.

My mother passed away five years ago and my friend and I have not celebrated Easter at all. Just this year I realized what a pleasant tradition that dinner always was and decided to start it up again. It seems a little sad without my mom but she will be there in spirit.

I then realized that when doing a characterization this would be a good example to let the reader know that the main character is still grieving, or conversely, has accepted the loss of the loved one and is moving on. That got me thinking about traditions that are unique to different people in order to show at a deeper level who the main character is, perhaps a secret side to the character. Such as, an annual camping trip for a harried executive, or a gambling junket every St. Paddy’s Day for a very staunch penny pinching personality.

This would add another level of depth to a character and it’s really gotten me thinking. Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter and I expect to put on at least five pounds


Filed under writing

3 responses to “Using Traditions To Show Character

  1. I hope I don’t put on five pounds – I’m still trying to lose Christmas’s gift. But I like your post about traditions; certainly got me thinking about how to use them to show characters.

  2. christinehusom

    Thank you for your insights. Traditions are important to most people and therefore, should be to our characters also. I hope you have a wonderful Easter dinner.

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