In this post, I’ll continue sharing my thoughts on writing introverted characters. This time, I’ll focus on their values.
Introverts tend to dislike pointless talks, because it’s social interaction for sake of social interaction, and it achieves nothing, from their point of view. That time could be better spent doing something they consider more fun or important. An introvert won’t ask “how are you” unless he’s genuinely interested in the answer, and would like the same to work the other way.
Introverts are likely to approach social interactions in a to-the-point style: they’ll say what they need/want to say and not prolong the interaction. They’ll be glad if others do the same, and won’t take it fondly if a discussion goes in an endless cycle. In such a case, they’re likely to find a quick way to leave the discussion.
Because they don’t like pointless conversations, they’re not fond of lying – after all, if there’s a hole in their lie or excuse, it may lead to further pointless conversation. The horror! Whether it’s hard to expose a lying introvert is another question. One of the usual signs – attempts to disengage from the conversation – is the default pattern for an introvert.
Their approach has some advantages for others: due to their approach, they’re better able to take the unpleasant truth rather than a pleasant lie. In the rare case an introvert would invite you somewhere, and you didn’t want to take part, you can just answer that you don’t want to, and they’ll take it as a valid reason. Quite likely, they won’t make any fuss of it, unless there was something truly important in it for them. And, even then, they’ll likely be more understanding than a declined extrovert.
Their different approach, though, may make them to seem rude or clumsy.
For example, an introvert may be reluctant to apologize. Not from lack of respect, but because they want to analyze what went wrong and how to learn from it. Their apology will be meant as one, not something you say out of social norm.
Just as they dislike pointless conversation, they dislike pointless physical contact. For an introvert, the best greeting is a simple “hello” from a respectful distance. A physical gesture – such as a handshake or a hug – should have a deeper meaning and be reserved for the people they truly care about. On the other hand, if an introvert hugs you on their own, you mean a lot to them.
All of this can be used well in writing – one way to expose a character’s character is to put them in an uncomfortable situation, which is somewhat easier for introverts. Conversations may take a wrong turn in an unintended way. Like I mentioned in part two, an introverted diplomat may present an interesting paradox to explore and be something to shake up a stale status quo.
Because they prefer to have fewer friends, introverts tend to form closer bonds. Thus, they value loyalty. Likewise, they’re more likely to be loyal in many aspects of their lives. After all, any form of betrayal would lead to drama and who knows how many unpleasant conversations, which they don’t like.
Introverts can also be loyal workers. After all, finding a job requires you to meet way too many people in a short timespan and, what’s worse, you need to talk a lot about yourself! The horror! On the other hand, they’re less likely to engage in hallway gossip (because that’s pointless conversation) or other modern-time distractions. You may not know they’re even present, but they’ll get the job done. And, as long as their needs are met and their wage paid, they’re not likely to nitpick, let alone to leave for small things.
In writing, this can manifest in many ways, often genre-specific. An introvert may be a good confidante. In historical or fantasy setting, they may be the perfect candidate for a king’s advisor or bodyguard. They may also make a good policeman or soldier – in this case, their loyalty may be to the cause rather than to their employer. The motivation may be another aspect of their personality to explore. On the other hand, the same sense of loyalty may as well turn them into zealots unwilling to change the view of their values, or a villain’s bootlicker.
Note: I’ll be delving deeper into honesty and loyalty in an introvert’s romantic relationships in a separate post.
Also, introverts are generally better at keeping secrets. Obvious, I guess – you can’t tell anyone if you don’t want to talk to anyone without a good reason, right?
Solitude and hobbies
Introverts are gradually exhausted by social interactions. Thus, they need some time alone to recharge. What form this takes varies case by case, though it’s unlikely it’ll be “staring at the wall” time alone.
Quite often, introverts will use their solitude to think about… pretty much anything. Especially what happened in their past, how to learn from it, and what they’d like to do next (preferably without too many people, of course).
Introverts also despise unannounced visitors – they’re intruding on their solitude, whether it’s used for introspection, hobbies, or anything else.
Introverts are very likely to engage in creative hobbies of all sorts, whether it’s crafting, writing, or reading, as it gives them both sense of fulfillment/self-realization but also solitude.
When it comes to hobbies, being introverted doesn’t mean rejecting team sports. Sure, introverts may be more likely (and more fond of) sports that are doable alone or in a small group, but they may not mind engaging in team sports on a casual level.
Hobbies are also very likely to connect to one important aspect: while introverts aren’t fond of pointless conversation, they can get quite talkative once the discussion takes a turn to something they’re passionate about. Especially their hobbies and interests. For many, it’s the way to break them out of their shell.
Thus, hobbies may be an important aspect for writing an introverted character – the way to have them better connect with someone, or to share something that may be important for the story. It may not be something secret – but something the person wouldn’t, on their own, think interesting enough to mention.
I’ll wrap it up here. Introverts of the world, unite! Separately! In our own homes! Come and share what else comes to your mind from the things I’ve mentioned, and how it could be used for writing a realistic introvert character. Anyone is, of course, welcome to ask – and I’ll give you my best answer. Don’t worry, the internet provides a good enough distance, so I won’t sneak away. My answer will be short and to the point, the way introverts like it.
I’ve loved this series, Tomas! Spot on!
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