While shyness and introversion is often used interchangeably, they definitely aren’t the same. Of course, a person can be both shy and introverted but it isn’t necessary for someone to have stage fright if they don’t prefer interacting much. Both are different and getting a good representation in a character is what we all want, right? So here are three ways to clearly bring either your characters’ shyness or introversion across the story.
Introverts prefer not talking much, shy people get nervous about talking in general.
So, if your character is in a party and they’re an introvert, they wouldn’t step up in a group or be interested in any sort of small talk with the random guy standing beside them. Now, if your character is shy, they’re probably sweating
not because of the party lights with a heart that’s faster than any F1 race car yea, I’ll take up a resolution next year about not exaggerating too much, calm down. The shy ones would be searching for the people they know because they know your shy character, which means they don’t have to go through the painfully anxiety filled introductions. Introverts, on the other hand, wouldn’t mind being introduced to new people but they’re certainly not going to open up all of a sudden to these new faces.
Introverts will prefer not going to the party, shy people might want to go but have no idea how they’ll get through it.
A little extra tip here: Not all introverts like video games, reading books or watching TV. Some might want to simply sleep; yes, that’s more logical. No but seriously, some might wanna grab a coffee for themselves or stalk their victim. All they don’t want to do is be around a lot of people, all at once. Your shy character, on the other hand, might be excited for the party but they know it would involve a lot of eye-contact, too many conversations, and too much attention—all of which are not their cup of tea, usually.
Introverts spend a lot of time in their heads, shy people might also give some time to the people they already know.
The biggest difference, according to me, is that introverts voluntarily favor some alone time while shy ones involuntarily find themselves cancelling plans because of the interactions they want to avoid. It’s one of the easiest way to identify and label your character, that is if they want to be labelled
you can’t force anyone, come on. Introverts won’t even say yes to plans by their best friends, simply because they don’t feel like being with any other human at the moment. Shy personalities would not mind saying yes to plans made by their closed ones, might even be the star of those gatherings, but tell them there’s a surprise visit by some person they don’t know and see that shy best friend crawl back into the earth.
That’s about it. I’ll also make it clear that there aren’t specific rules to follow or checklists to tick for a personality, anyone can be anything. You can mix up things and it won’t feel out of place but one thing writers should always be careful is to not label your character and then make them seem something completely else. Captain America is an introvert, for example, and Spider Man is shy but both are superheroes because that’s what a character arc is for—you use all their traits, good and bad, to shape the individual you want.