Writing Memorable Characters: Hobbies

Has a movie or book ever inspired you to pick up a new hobby?

When I lived in South Africa, my mom sent me the 5th book in the Harry Potter series. Shortly after, I decided to take up crocheting, one step away from Hermione knitting socks for house elves. I worked on basic blankets and made my nieces pillows during that time.

Recently, I watched and thoroughly enjoyed¬†The Queen’s Gambit (2020)¬†on Netflix. To be honest, I never really liked chess. In fact, I hated chess as a kid. I chalked it up to flat-out sucking at chess at that age. When my son Luke asked if we had a chess set during quarantine (insert any month here) 2020, I decided to give it another go. He indeed got a chess set for Christmas (that Santa, always paying attention) and we refreshed ourselves on how to play.

To my surprise, I still suck at chess. Apparently it didn’t have to do with my age at all. Nope, it has to do with the way my brain works. I find myself constantly planning my next move and ignoring what my opponent has up his sleeve. My patience wears thin when my opponent takes too long (more than 10 seconds is too long). Also, there’s something about knowing a computer can always beat a human due to chess having a limited number of possible maneuvers that makes it less appealing in my eyes.

As a writer, these experiences show me how important it is to make dynamic characters, ones that are enthusiastic enough about a subject that they breathe new life, new interest in a topic. Something as simple as giving a character a hobby can form a stronger connection between the character and audience. More importantly, it carries that connection with the reader long after they have finished your book.

After all, I couldn’t tell you 90 percent of what happened in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I even had to look the title up in writing this. But whenever someone mentions that particular book, I think, oh yeah, the one Hermione took up knitting.


**Featured image by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

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