Creating dynamic, believable characters is key to crafting an engaging story. One effective way to add realism and interest to your characters is to give them unique hobbies. Hobbies reveal details about your characters’ personalities, backgrounds, interests, and goals. When chosen thoughtfully, hobbies can add depth, complexity, and intrigue to any character.
This article will explore how to select the perfect hobbies to make your characters more three-dimensional. We’ll look at popular hobbies in fiction, as well as how to match hobbies to character development. With the right hobbies, your characters will come alive on the page.
Consider Your Character’s Personality and Background
The first step is to think about who your character fundamentally is. What are their core traits, life experiences, and motivations? This will point you toward hobbies that align with your personality and background.
Introverts vs. Extroverts
An introverted character may enjoy solo hobbies like reading, writing, painting, or playing music. Extroverts may prefer more social pastimes like team sports, singing in a band, or community service projects.
Think about how your character was raised. Were they wealthy or poor? Rural or urban? Their economic status and environment often influence hobbies. For example, characters with limited resources may enjoy simpler hobbies like whittling or fishing. Affluent characters may pursue expensive hobbies like polo or violin.
Often hobbies relate directly to a character’s career or aspired career. For example, a detective character could enjoy puzzles or sleight-of-hand magic. A fashion designer may follow trends in clothing and textiles.
See Also: How to Find a Hobby for Introverts?
Select Hobbies that Support Character Development
The hobbies you choose should tie into your character’s growth and transformation throughout the story. Hobbies can track changes, reflect character arcs, or create obstacles to overcome.
Hobbies that Show Character Change
Having a character pick up a new hobby demonstrates their transition and evolution. For example, an anxious character taking up yoga shows them gaining inner peace.
Hobbies that Reflect Character Arcs
Choose hobbies that accentuate your character’s flaws at the beginning of the story, contrasting with more positive hobbies later on. For example, a destructive gambler could later find fulfillment in woodworking.
Hobbies that Create Conflict
Hobbies can also drive the story’s conflict. A secret scrapbooking hobby could cause issues in a character’s romance. An interest in extreme sports could lead the character into dangerous situations.
See Also: 5 Best Hobbies for Extroverts
Think About Interesting Dynamics Between Characters
Hobbies can also underscore relationships between characters. Shared interests could create bonds. Clashing hobbies could lead to conflict. Complementary hobbies could bring together opposites.
Shared Hobbies Between Characters
Characters who enjoy the same hobby will naturally relate to each other. This could start a friendship or romance. Think about how the characters pursue the hobby together and what it reveals about them.
Clashing Hobbies Lead to Conflict
Hobbies that rub each other the wrong way can create ongoing tensions between characters. For example, a punk rocker will probably clash with a classical music snob. Their feud could be a running subplot.
Connect Complementary Hobbies
Sometimes opposite hobbies complement one another. For example, a sailboat captain and a meteorologist would make ideal partners, with their contrasting areas of expertise.
Consider Interesting or Unusual Hobbies
While common hobbies like reading or gardening can certainly work, more distinctive or even quirky hobbies often make the biggest impression. Here are some ideas:
- Collecting unique items like vintage postcards or potato chip bags
- Participating in cultural traditions like folk dance or tea ceremonies
- Playing music in unconventional ways like steel drum or theremin
- Learning skills from bygone eras like calligraphy or horsemanship
- Amateur science hobbies like astronomy or taxonomy
- Daredevil hobbies like parkour or motorcycle stunt riding
- Obscure competitions like croquet or cheese rolling
- Artistic pursuits like perfume-making or ice sculpting
- Building detailed miniatures, dollhouses, or scale models
- Technical hobbies like computer programming or ham radio operating
Whatever you choose, aim for specificity and originality. Avoid generic hobbies that could apply to any character.
Match Hobbies to Your Character’s Life Circumstances
Consider how factors like your character’s age, period, location, family, health, and obligations would affect their hobbies. A hobby needs to make sense of their situation.
Age Appropriate Hobbies
A retiree will have different hobbies than a school-aged child. Make sure to adjust for your character’s maturity level.
Hobbies Appropriate to period
Research popular hobbies from different historical eras. For contemporary stories, use current trends.
Hobbies Suited to Setting
Hobbies should fit your location too. Rural, urban, or coastal areas enable different pursuits.
If your character has significant family responsibilities, look for family-oriented hobbies or those with flexible schedules.
Hobbies Aligned with Physical Abilities
Consider your character’s age, health, and physical condition when selecting active hobbies.
Hobbies that Work With Character’s Schedule
Busy professionals will need hobbies that can be done in short increments. Students may have more time for involved projects.
Pro Tip: The key is choosing hobbies tailored specifically to who your character is and the context of their life. Avoid generic one-size-fits-all hobbies.
Use Hobbies to Show, Not Tell
Reveal hobbies through scenes and details, rather than explicitly stating them up front. Show characters engaging in the hobby or referencing it in dialogue.
Mention objects related to the hobby in settings, like gardening tools in their shed or cooking magazines on their coffee table. Hobbies revealed gradually feel more natural than hobbies simply labeled right away.
Select Hobbies that Contribute to Your Story
As with any detail in your story, hobbies should contribute, not distract. Avoid letting hobbies overshadow more central elements of plot and character development.
Stay focused on choosing hobbies that reveal character, advance the story, or enrich the fictional world. Every hobby should have a purpose.
The Right Hobbies Make All the Difference
A thoughtfully chosen hobby – aligned with your character’s personality, life circumstances, relationships, and the story itself – can be a shortcut to making your character feel real.
With the huge array of hobby possibilities out there, you are limited only by your imagination. Move beyond generic hobbies and opt for specific, original ones tailored distinctly for each character.
Make your characters’ hobbies work double duty, both reflecting who they are and what they care about, while also driving the larger story forward. Hobbies are a valuable tool in every writer’s toolkit. Use them wisely, and your characters will truly come to life.
FAQs about The Right Hobbies to Bring Your Characters to Life
Why are hobbies important for fictional characters?
Hobbies help make fictional characters seem more realistic and well-rounded. Unique hobbies give insight into the character’s personality, background, interests, and goals. Hobbies also allow writers to show rather than tell details about characters through specific scenes and objects related to their hobbies.
How do you choose good hobbies for characters?
Consider the character’s personality, upbringing, profession, role in the story, relationships with other characters, age, period, location, family situation, physical abilities, and schedule. Choose hobbies that align with these factors and contribute to character development.
Should you choose common hobbies or unique ones?
Unique, unusual, or quirky hobbies tend to be more memorable for characters. But common hobbies can work too if presented specifically. Avoid generic hobbies that could apply to anyone.
How can hobbies contribute to plot and conflict?
Hobbies can illustrate character change arcs, create obstacles, underscore relationships between characters who share or clash over hobbies, and drive specific conflicts when a hobby causes issues for the character.
How should you reveal a character’s hobbies in your writing?
Show hobbies through scenes of the character engaging in them or referencing them in dialogue rather than explicitly stating them. Mention related objects in descriptions to hint at hobbies unobtrusively. Reveal hobbies gradually instead of labeling them outright at the start.