I wouldn't mind having a party here. It's sweet. Photo courtesy of andrenaphoto.com

Let’s talk about socializing. More specifically, let’s talk about writers socializing. I know how easy it is to sequester myself when I write. I can develop my characters in my own little world, create one that fits my ideals. My characters do as I say.

But the problem with this is that the less we interact with real people, the less realistic are characters are bound to be. They begin to act like finger puppets, moving and speaking to the rhythm of your hands, typing away. But real people don’t do that. They will often surprise you, disagree with you, or downright betray you.

I find that no matter how well I think I know a person, they can still do and say things that I do not expect. If your character is as deep as a person, he/she will not like getting bossed around. Unless they’re the submissive type; in which case, you can pretty much beat them up as much as you like.

Try this one on for size: go to a party and watch different groups of strangers. Then go back home and invite your characters to a cocktail party. Do they react similarly to each other? Or does the whole thing go swimmingly, so to speak? You always hear of the strangest things happening at parties, from break-ups to break-dancing. If your characters have nothing to talk or complain about, you might need to do some character deepening.

The only cure I have found so far to cure this infection of deflating characters is to get together with people; they don’t even have to be my best friends, just people that I can observe and see how they interact with me and each other. Sometimes even just sitting in a coffee shop and people-watching (no stalking, please) can bring your characters a little more life.

Have you found this in your own writing? Do your characters tend to fall flat when you don’t interact with real people? What types of people do you like to watch?