Characters are the heart of the story, and internal traits are the heart of a character. Such traits can be acquired or be inborn, can be invisible to other characters but visible to the reader or visible to both, can be overt or subtle.
Examples of internal traits:
Intelligent: sees the cause and effect of things that are hidden from others
Unintelligent: sees only what is directly in front of her eyes
Certain: has no room for doubt
Uncertain: tormented by doubts
Open-Minded: interested in what others have to say
Imaginative: creative, perceives hidden truths
Unimaginative: cannot improvise
Curious: always searching for answers
Incurious: thinks "so what?" rather than "why?"
And on and on and on. There must be hundreds of possible internal traits to show what characters are like on the inside, to show how they feel, to motivate them.
What are your character's internal traits? Are the traits inborn or acquired? (For example, a person can be born timid or they can become fearful because of a trauma.) Is the character aware of the traits? Do other characters see the traits or just the reader?
As always, any topic that will help us improve our writing is fair game in these discussions, so feel free to bring up any of your writing concerns.
The group No Whine, Just Champagne will meet here at this article for a live discussion about writing and the writing life on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 9:00pm ET (8pm CT, 7pm MT, 6pm PT). Hope to see you, but if you can't make it then, the discussion will continue during the days afterward, so please stop by and tell us what you think.