Characters need hobbies

How much does real life impinge on a story? When someone asks ‘am I in it? – the answer, of course, is no. But there are episodes or characteristics of a character that my nearest and dearest will recognise. Because characters need hobbies if they aren’t going to come across as one-dimensional workaholics or manic sex fiends.

In Starting Over I wanted to give Robin’s character more depth by giving her a hobby other than her motorbike. Initially I thought of Taekwondo, which is something I practiced for five years (see photo) but that requires a big commitment to discipline and training which wouldn’t have fit Robin’s character. I stopped doing Taekwondo five years ago and took up archery. However, I couldn’t see Robin doing that either, in spite of her name.


Another of my activities is boxing – I now take part in a weekly boxercise class for over 50s. It’s a lot of fun but probably more fun for our instructor when she has us doing plank for 30 seconds and sees everyone dropping to the mat after ten. (We’re improving.) Anyway in the story, Robin takes up boxing, which helps her work off some of her sexual energy.

Towards the end of the novel two of the characters engage in a line dance, a reference to something they used to do together. I have never actually participated in a real line dance. But a few years ago on holiday some American women we met tried to show us the steps. I have absolutely no sense of rhythm…a warning to anyone who might ask me to dance at the GLCS con…don’t wear open toe shoes.

So sometimes real life sneaks into the story. Part of the fun of being an author, you can take the bits you want, mix it all together and come up with something completely different.

Starting Over is my debut novel, published by Affinity eBook Press in October 2014. The sequel, Arc Over Time, is due out in May 2015.

2 comments on “Characters need hobbies

  1. Jen, you’re so right. I’ve always been an acolyte of the life is stranger than fiction cult. There’s stuff you just can’t make up and, as writers, we just know we have to find a way to work it into a story. None of my family, friends and neighbors nor my exes are in my book (and soon to be 2nd installment) either and yet they all are. Some character resembles their interests, their hobbies or their idiosyncrasies. The things that people do are just too good not to use.


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