Do Your Characters Sleep?


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Seems like an odd question, right?

I was lying in bed just a few minutes ago when I thought of this topic. I know for certain that James Patterson’s characters sleep. Because Detective Alex Cross is often woken from his sleep to get to a scene or by something happening inside his own home. I also think Spenser and Harry Bosch sleep in their stories. But that’s about all I could come up with. Three characters written by three different authors.

Isn’t that just a little odd? Sleeping is something that everyone must do, but it doesn’t happen often in books. At least not the ones I’m reading. I know Andrew sleeps in my book. I think I probably ended three chapters with him going to sleep after a long day. And that’s really what I’m talking about here. I’m not expecting to have these characters sleep in every chapter or something. But I do think it’s possible that authors sometimes forget that these are supposed to be people. Sure there fictional, but how many characters do we see coming to TV or movies every year?

Just a thought.

Do your characters sleep?

12 thoughts on “Do Your Characters Sleep?

  1. My characters definitely sleep. It has been a challemge working that in while at the same time not over doing it though. I don’t want everything that happens to start with them waking up. So balance is definitely key.


  2. Interesting question and one I never realized when reading books. It seems like for some stories I’ve read characters have a never ending supply of energy and do not have to sleep or eat. However in my stories, I know my characters sleep and eat 🙂


  3. Often scenes end when they end. The next scene or chapter begins with another action. If having the main character moves the story along, then by all means, have them go to sleep.


  4. They must because most amateur writers have them waking up, first sentence, first paragraph, chapter one–or even worse in a prologue and in every transition throughout their novel. So yes, characters do sleep but having them wake up as a story’s opening devise is very cliche, to say the least.


  5. Like martinbrown says up there, those amateur early revisions of my first book found my pov character sleeping and waking up a lot to end and begin chapters. I have a scribble of chapter numbers on one of those drafts detailing the frequency. By the final draft, some sleep was left–enough to humanize the protagonist and foil the dream-like strangeness of his waking life.


  6. I think of it like going to the bathroom or getting dressed. We know characters do this, it’s a given (in most cases). Even eating could be in this category too. But if it’s not necessary to the scene or story line, I don’t think it’s needed. I’m not pulled out of a good story by the lack of scenes with characters tucking into bed, or disappearing for a quick bathroom break. But there are certainly times when basic human needs/actions help the story along.


  7. I find it is a good way of ending a chapter–the end of a day, the end of the chapter. My main character is a bit neurotic, and has trouble sleeping from nightmares, worry, etc. She’s also a doctor, and is occasionally called in to the hospital late at night for emergencies, getting naps on couches when she can. Lack of sleep for a character can be a useful tool in helping a reader worry about a hero, or punish the antagonist.


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