I HATE when characters have no interests outside of the thing they’re doing in the book. It’s like they sprung up fully formed JUST for that book, and all they know is how to get through their plotline. This seems to mostly happen in books with a paranormal focus, for some reason. For example, Blue in The Raven Boys.1 She has no friends, no hobbies, no interests outside of paranormal stuff and school. All she does is hang around with her (paranormal) family, help out the raven boys with their paranormal thing, and ocassionally complete some homework. She has multiple jobs and must know a lot of people through them, but they take up maybe one paragraph total in the entire book. It’s WEIRD.
I mean, yeah, I understand that no-one would want to read about some kid hanging out on Tumblr or going to soccer practice when there’s weird talking time-travel trees or whatever. But it’s completely possible to include non-paranormal interests into a paranormal story without making it boring and slow-paced. For example: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan stars Kami, a teenage girl in a paranormal story who likes doing things OTHER than talk to the dude in her head. She has multiple friends! She actually pays attention to her family and knows what they do for a living. And those things are both integral to her character and (later) the plot! Her non-paranormal interests are included naturally in with the paranormal stuff, and it works out great.
Another example (non-book this time)! Buffy the vampire slayer, both movie and TV show versions. She was a cheerleader before she was a vampire slayer, and she wanted to keep being one afterwards. But she couldn’t! And that made for some compelling episodes/character development and her non-slayer interests were touched on in multiple episodes, though the overall episode was STILL focused on vampires and demons and whatnot. And THEN she used her awesome cheerleading skills to kick vampire butt. THAT’S the kind of thing that I’d like to read about– a character who has hobbies and interests outside of the supernatural whatsit they’re dealing with, and how using or losing those interests affects them/the story/etc.
Do you ever get annoyed by characters without hobbies?
(Part of this post first appeared as a comment over at Good Books and Good Wine. Hi, April!)