Writing: introvert characters, part one

What seemed unlikely a few months ago, the ongoing COVID sitation had shown that introverts don’t have it that bad, and can deal with some situations better. Now that my ocuntry is in hard lockdown, I had a bit of extra time for thinking, and decided to look into some aspects of introverts and how they can be used in writing.

In this post, I’ll look into some of them.

How introverted is your intovert?

This may seem like a weird question, but I think there’s a range of introvertedness (is that a word?) that affects how much a person interacts (or doesn’t) with others. There may be various causes for this – while some level of approach to social life may be inherited trait or caused by the way a person is raised, life experience will shape a person and affect their social interactions as well.

This may be an aspect to explore for a character’s background – the reason may become a plot point, minor or major. A character who was betrayed or had a traumatic life experience may keep to themselves to prevent this from happening again. This may turn good or bad, either by a desire to improve and overcome their past, or bitterness and wanting revenge.

Introverts can also be happy around people, but it’s usually either their family or a small group of close friends. How large a group, that also depends. They also may have a slightly different approach and personal definition of friendship. It can even be slightly vague. Because introverts prefer smaller groups, they usually see more value in each “contact” – but that doesn’t mean they have to spend a lot of time with them. Instead, they may prefer if their time together is less frequent but meaningful. And they may face temporary separation better than extroverts, more so if they’re not in control of the situation.

Personal example: many of the people I go hiking with are people I consider distant friends. I pretty much see them only during the hiking trips, and since those are on hold since November due to COVID restrictions, I haven’t seen them for quite a while. This doesn’t trouble me much, because once the lockdown is lifted, I know we’ll see each other again, doing what we like – wandering the land.

Personal quirks

I don’t know if introverts are more likely to have strange benavioral patters, but the fact they’re introverted (which can already be seen like an oddity) may lead to their quirks behing highlighted.

In fact, I would say that most quirks will have a different root. They may either be tied to their past (such as shy bladder syndrome, something that often develops among victims of bullying or violence, which may be the same event that turns them into introverts) or tied to some other neurological sources (such as various OCDs).

However, as introverts tend to be secretive people, there may be some quirks that are tied to this very personality aspect. Some examples may be greater nervosity and thus various sub-conscious behavior in case they need to take the stage. Excessive checking of things or repeating of a speech they’re to give may be one way, but the opposite is also possible: to not remind them of what awaits them, they may prefer to just wing it.

Some other patterns that come to my mind, and that can reveal some details about your characters: In present-time story, an introvert would be more likely to use headphones. The reasons may be, for example, valuing privacy (both own and others’) by not imposing their music on them, or creating their own privacy by filtering out what’s going on around them. Another is that they’re less likely to voice their thoughts and will just keep them inside their own head – in writing, this translates into more intrnal thoughts than external, and they may even have internal thoughts while speaking with others. And their quirks may nudge them to use creativity – both for entertainment or in problem-solving – even though they may appear weird or childish for it.

In social aspects, they may also be more prone to overthinking, especially when it comes to conforming to the norm in events they’re not too fond of (and wouldn’t take part if it was their choice). This, again, may be related to other aspects of their person (such as various forms of autism) rather than introversion but those two aspects can blend together and enhance one another.

Introvert’s fears

In general, introverts dislike large attention, let alone public displays, especially if they’re to take the head position. You probably won’t please introvert if you ask him to give a speech or shove them into a group of people. Introverts aren’t fond of conversation for the sake of conversation. They can, on the other hand, get very passionate about topics they relate to. This can be tied to the quirks mentioned above.

On the other hand, their (often well-known) fears and weaknesses are something that can be used to further their character development, something that has potential for writers. It’s a challenge to overcome (always a good part in a story) and something that can show their personal growth.

Personal example: while I am not too fond of doing presentations or giving speeches, there are situations that demand it from me – such as during my university studies. If I have to present something, I’m more likely to keep it to the point. This may be a challenge if a presentation has to meet certains criteria (let’s say, a 15-minute presentation) or may be an advantage in situation where the audience may have limited attention span or isn’t well-versed on the topic and a ton of facts would be lost on them anyway.

Likewise, the fact they don’t favor being leaders doesn’t mean introverts can’t be leaders. Of course, because of their nature, they’ll do better in smaller groups (this, again, depends on person – for me, the perfect size is around 5). Likewise, as they’re not fond of unnecessary talking, they may be likely to think things through alone, then have a to-the-point discussion (to which they come well-prepared), and go straigth to the point afterwards.

Another personal example: when leading a hiking trip, my descriptions of the trails and the landmarks are to the point. I give the basic information in an amount that should be easy to remember, and offer where to find more. When possible, I am open to being asked about other alternatives, up to suggesting a trail tailor-made for the person asking, if the location provides enough options. It may lead to talking with people longer, but it feels more manageable in smaller groups.

This post is becoming quite long already, and I’m still far from mentioning everything I wanted to mention, so I’ll have to split it. In the next parts coming soon, I’ll cover more introvert things, such as approach to hobbies, and how their introverted nature can be used in various situations that are closer to writing than this intro. I’ll also look at introvert’s approach to relationships more.

2 thoughts on “Writing: introvert characters, part one

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