First, before you go ranting to me about how ‘It’s real for us!’, don’t worry, that’s not what this post is about (though, thinking about it, I might do a post on that…). This post is about how human characters are in writing.
What I mean is, sometimes when you read a book, it seems like that characters are, I don’t know, Minecraft ones, who can just go go go. They never sleep, or eat, or poop. I get that writing this such as these can be boring (or disgusting) but please – make them human.
‘BUT HOW?!’ you cry.
If they’ve been up all night, say breaking into the library to do research, or sneaking out to see their partner, have them with huge bags under their eyes, and yawning at every break. If they’ve just been running from the bad guy, have them needing a drink and then, just a bit later, bursting for the loo. And remember, if they don’t sleep for three days, they’re not gonna be running very well on pure adrenaline.
And remember, people do eat – your character can’t live off thin air.
You don’t have to put in every time a character does something like pee or eat or sleep, but make it so your readers know they’re not super heroes. For example, you don’t have to write, ‘I sat down and ate a dinner of tomato pasta I had cooked for myself with grated cheese. I had a glass of orange juice. After I had finished my meal, I went to the loo,’ but perhaps something like, ‘I grabbed a bagel on my way out, eating it as I walked down the path.’ (And no, that is not how I write – I write much better (I hope).)
Just do enough to make them seem real. If your character manages to go for days without food or water without breaking a sweat, chances are, at least one or two readers will notice and perhaps question it.