I’m one of six kids in my family and I love all of my siblings, but that doesn’t mean everything is all rainbows and syrupy sweets between us. Even though we were raised by the same parental units, we’re all different people with our own idiosyncrasies and our own triggers.

If you know me, you know I’m a neat freak and will stress out when things get too messy. Let me explain why I’m this way. There are four girls in my family and my mom constantly took in strays/extended family members to live with us. At one time, there were two sets of bunk beds in my bedroom and there were four of us who slept in there. We were all between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. (My parents were not wealthy and the bedroom wasn’t big enough for two people let alone the four of us.) Makeup, clothing, books, Walkmans, cassettes, and other stuff covered every surface of the place. There were times I couldn’t see a single thread of the khaki colored carpet. I remember kicking stuff out of the way so I could walk to my bed. My parents were constantly on us to clean up, but when you have that many people in such a small place, there isn’t enough room to properly store items.

Flash forward to the present, I’m a minimalist decorator, constant purger, and consummate organizer. Some of this stems from that sleeping arrangement all those years ago. However, I have fond memories of that time as well. Times when we all disappeared into our hole to talk, laugh, eat secret treats, and prank each other. (I’m smiling at the memories flooding through my head as I type this.) And those moments have formed other characteristics in me too.

I think about this a lot when I write my characters. I try to identify their quirks, the traits that make them different from the other characters, and why these characters feel/act a certain way.

What do you use to infuse characters with traits?