Say your plot needs a character to miss an important text message. You could have him lose his phone, or forget to turn it back on after he takes a nap, or just not take it with him when he leaves the house. Any of these would work, but…yawn. (Unless he lost his phone while running from Kevin Spacey, but we’re not writing such a story here.)
We want an interesting character who will give us an interesting reason for missing this important text.
So let’s make him supremely frugal. He’s not poor, but his favorite saying is, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” He’ll have it tattooed on his forearm as soon as tattoos quit costing so much.
|Empty until further notice.|
Say he lives in the boonies because housing is cheaper out there, but he doesn’t have easy access to the internet, so he uses his cell phone as a hotspot. And because he’s so frugal, he’s got one of those plans where you pay for what you use, say $10 for each gig of data. And say it’s the last day of his billing cycle, and he’s got only 15 MB left before he has to pay $10 for another gig of data that’s mostly going to go to waste because it will expire at midnight when the new billing cycle starts, and he can certainly go one day without internet.
|Not the boonies.|
But he has this interesting quirk/belief/mental illness, so he turns off his phone. That way no sneaky automatic app updates or cute baby photos from his sister can push him over to another gig.
While he’s entertaining himself by reading one of the Donald E. Westlake’s Dortmunder capers that he checked out of the library for free, this text comes through. And missing it costs him a lot more than $10. What it costs him exactly depends on your story, but isn’t this is a much more interesting (and character-developing and word-producing) reason for missing this text than simply misplacing his phone?
Not only that, but now we’ve got some other interesting things to work with, like why did he buy a $40 bottle of wine? Is that why he saves pennies in the first place? So he can afford good wine? And why did he buy, but not eat, organic greens? Is this a chronic situation or acute? A chronic condition would mean that he gives himself the best, but his self doesn’t like the way it tastes. If acute, perhaps he had planned to make a nice salad for someone special, but it didn’t happen. And then we ask why. And then maybe we have a subplot.
|It would have been delicious.|
So, one interesting character can create several situations, plot twists, and subplots, and pages and pages of words.
What quirk can you give to one of your characters to make him a little more interesting?