Enter the Introvert
I’ve been truly blessed lately in my book choices. Some seriously good reads* that have my imagination racing like a gang of teenagers and their dog after a masked man. As a middle grade writer I tend to reach for MG titles to better feed my wordsmithing. That held true for these books, too. What I loved about each of these titles was how they approached their quiet, introverted characters.
As a card-carrying member of Introverts Anonymous myself, I have an interest in seeing introverted characters portrayed well. I never cease to cringe when stories paint them as “shy,” “cold,” “in need of more friends/unsociable,” etc. I love my extrovert friends and fam, but at the end of the day I’m not them and they’re not me. Pretending I could change the way I’m wired to suddenly be recharged by lots of socializing and small talk is crazy-pants. And to a quiet kid reading that message in a story, potentially harmful. I’m a huge believer in diverse representation, and this aspect of personhood is no exception.
As storytellers, we can ask ourselves “what is it about my personality that makes me happy? How can that be translated onto the page?”
In the books I mentioned earlier, one girl’s quiet yet relentless observation helps her solve a murder and save her friends. Another story had a boy who’s preference for sleeping out in the barn instead of the house gave him the perspective needed to alert his loved ones to mortal danger.
Using their strong personalities, these characters make decisions that set the stage for the books to progress toward their climactic conflict. Without them the story couldn’t happen. Their lack of expansive social circle and desire to remain unobserved are proved to be assets. Introversion is never a character flaw to be overcome; it’s a natural part of many people and it belongs in every story from start to finish, just like it’s more outgoing counterpart!
If you have a quiet character that packs a potent literary punch, I’d love to hear all about them in the comments or my email!
* The books I’m referring to are The School for Good and Evil (Books 1 & 2) by Soman Chainani, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, and The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. Highly recommend!