You know how you can be with a friend, and they tell a bad joke or snort when they laugh or lick ice cream off their nose, and you just smile to yourself and feel all warm around the heart because that’s so them?
I call this feeling fondness. You just like that person so much, and not in an elevated and abstract way. You’re not loving them for their virtues. You’re loving them because of the way they crinkle up their nose or how excited they get about pickle-flavored chips. The specificity of your friend’s unique style makes you happy they’re in the world, that there’s a human exactly like that.
After months of obsession with Aziraphale and Crowley, from Good Omens, I’m realizing that’s how I feel about those two. I’m not obsessed because Aziraphale is so good and Crowley is such a rebel. I’m obsessed because Aziraphale does dumb magic tricks and Crowley walks like he’s still a snake. I see them doing their characteristic little things and I just feel so fond of them. Kind of like they are of each other.
That’s the trick with making characters. It’s one thing to say, okay, here’s my hero, she has a sword and is seeking to avenge her dead father. It’s noble and we might admire her. But to feel truly fond, we need to know she still sleeps with a stuffed dragon. Or she is scared of opossums. Or she fangirls over witches. We need really specific details and quirks, the kinds of things that make us smile when our friends do them. We want to know that there is no other character exactly like her, that she adds richness to the imaginary world by existing there.
Think of a character you’re writing. What details make you fond of them? What details could you add?