Most of our protagonists have interests or jobs that we use as the center of our series. But tell us about your main character(s)? What do they do for fun, or to relax? This may be something you know as the author, but your readers don’t. Or it could be a subplot in your series.
Barb: Um, solve murders? Julia Snowden in the Maine Clambake Mysteries doesn’t have any hobbies, though she definitely needs one. Jane Darrowfield, who’s retired, gardens, plays bridge, and travels. Jane has turned her hobby of solving vexing problems for neighbors into a job as a Professional Busybody.
Jessie: My characters tend to have passionate enthusiasms, likely because I do. Edwina gardens, rambles, knits and is engaged in writing her first novel. Her friend Charles is an avid watercolorist. Beryl loves to gamble, play sports of various types and to pilot all sorts of vehicles. All of these things have shown up in the books so they aren’t things only I know as the writer. Maybe I should think on this a bit!
Liz: I think my characters definitely need more hobbies…Maddie James loves to sing, which some might remember from the first Cat Cafe book. She hasn’t been doing much of it lately though, so maybe she should get back to that! Violet has her crystals, which is her business, but since she loves them so much she’s always learning more about different stones in order to bring more choices to her store.
Edith/Maddie: Robbie Jordan goes out for long, hard bike rides to clear her mind, but I’m not sure that’s a hobby. She does like to do difficult crossword puzzles – in pen. So far Mac Almeida doesn’t have a hobby other than reading cozy mysteries and discussing them with her book group. Rose Carroll doesn’t, either, but what working woman did in 1890? She does grow medicinal herbs in her garden.
Sherry: I love reading about all these different hobbies. It’s what makes reading so fun, learning about fictional characters and picturing yourself doing them. Chloe loves water sports. It stems from a tragic incident when she was ten. Sarah, of course, loves going to garage sales and turned that love into her business. Now if only someone would pay me to read!
Julie: I wrote the question, so that means I’ve been thinking about it. I think Delia does online gaming or plays Dungeons and Dragons. Ernie is an actor and a baker. Tamara probably plays tennis or golf. Roddy paints and draws. Lilly gardens (of course). She also knits, does puzzles, and likes crosswords, though she cheats.
Writer friends, do your characters have secret hobbies, or hobbies that are part of the book? Readers, do you like discussions of hobbies or games? Does it help you connect to a character?
I love seeing characters with a hobby – it gives them a break in their pursuit of a killer.
I agree. That goes for all sorts of books. Spenser cooked…
There’s nothing wrong with a character having a relaxing hobby. Hell, any series that is set in a bookstore or library, you know the characters are going to have “READING BOOKS” at the top of their hobby list.
I don’t know if it helps me connect MORE to a character, but a hobby is part of the character’s makeup so it doesn’t hurt.
I don’t know what my relaxing hobby would be these days since I’ve basically turned reading and listening into music as a kind of sideline (not very well paying) job. Not that I mind, I love getting to write book and music reviews that occasionally someone takes a few moments to read.
I’m still looking for that job that pays me Warren Buffett money for Maynard G. Krebs effort. LOL
Maynard G Krebs effort, LOL. I’m thinking about taking a drawing class this fall to learn something new.
Jim Duncan likes to fish, but is that a hobby? I don’t know that Sally has a hobby; she likes to be lazy and read (Jim has occasionally coaxed her out for a hike). Betty Ahern doesn’t have hobbies, she’s too busy working at Bell Airplane and solving mysteries.
I think fishing could be a hobby. Sounds like Betty may need one, 😉
My lead character, Samantha Barnes, is a foodie by choice and by trade, but it became clear to me in writing the first Cape Cod Foodie mystery, A Side of Murder, that what she really loves is sailing. This, I might add, came as a complete surprise to me. I mean, I like sailing, but not the kind of fearless stuff that Sam does. My idea of the perfect sail is a nice little breeze, a nice little jaunt out and back, and then a nice big beer at the mooring. Is that why we write? To create alter-egos who are braver/more interesting than we are?
I love that! And yes, it’s fun having our characters doing things we’d never, ever do.
I enjoy reading about characters different hobbies and interests because it helps me “picture” in my mind the type of person they are, how their mind works.
It does bring layers, doesn’t it?
I do enjoy character’s hobbies in the books I read. Who knows you might find a tip in a hobby you have or learn enough about a new hobby that you explore it further. We all need something to relax with or enjoy dong so why won’t the characters in a book be any different? I think it rounds the characters out because as they say “all work and no play”………….
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I agree, Kay!
Catherine Swope runs, so does Hayden Kent, but she also scuba dives and Hank Wittie does both as well. I think I see a theme here!
Do you scuba dive? I love that sort of hobby–not in my wheelhouse so fun to learn about.
Absolutely. I’ve been a diver since I certified in 1971. Love it.
Rook enjoys boxing and working on his three-point shot. He puts in a few hours each week at the local gym, hanging with the scrubs and old-timers there. In secret he enjoys whittling, one of several knife skill taught him by his father. And he passes idle hours in the office engraving his name, Shelba Julio Rook, in the surface of his beat-up oak desk.
I LOVE the whittling and knife skills. Those sorts of passed on hobbies have so much meaning.
I love a number of crafts, mainly knitting, which I find very relaxing. After months of Zoom knitting group, it was wonderful to get back to in person get togethers – first masked in a park, finally in our favorite coffee shop. (Edith – I know I share this craft with Rose Carroll, I especially loved to read about the special needles her mother gave her!) I also love live theater, it was exciting to see my favorite local Shakespeare in the Park company last week but I’m not yet ready to spend time in a theater crowded with people.
Thank you, Judith!
Judith, we share a love of theater, and I’m with you. I also knit–my grandmother taught me how–and I think I need to up Lilly’s knitting game.
I like a mention of their hobbies or passions because it gives the character a more 3 dimensional feel. In the real world we all have more than one interest. It makes us interesting. It’s the same for characters.
I agree. When I get to know someone, I love learning about an unexpected hobby or interest. It does add more depth to their character.
I definitely enjoy learning about character’s hobbies not connected to the theme of a series. It makes them seem more real as characters. After all, I am an accountant, I read, I love Disney, I play ultimate Frisbee, and I do mud runs. Is there a connection between any of those other than me? Most likely not.
Varied interests and hobbies definitely make people, and characters, more unique!
Yes, characters with hobbies are fun to read and some characters seem to work out their mysteries while jogging, walking, painting, gardening etc. It give them an activity to do while letting the mind mull over “whodunit.”
For me, I always find doing something else helps me figure out problems. When I’m plotting a book, knitting or baking helps.
What a fun question. Erica Donato has a teen age daughter, an old house, and is either in grad school or working or both. She has not time for hobbies! Getting a meal on the table that is not takeout is an accomplishment. Her friend Joe sometimes gets her out for a long walk or a bike ride in the park.And then there is the crime solving that seems to come her way.
Sounds like a full plate for sure!
Edith makes a good point about busy lives and hobbies. My parents used to say that we five were the only “hobbies” they needed. Dad’s woodeworking wouldn’t have counted as a hobby, since he was usually making something we needed, cabinets, kitchen table, closet, bed. Mom’s sewing was primarily dresses and shirts for family. Creative, but practical work as well.
Both excellent points. My father was a woodworker as well, and I treasure the cabinet he made me.
Showing hobbies prevents the dreaded “cardboard character” syndrome.
It certainly helps.
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