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What's your character's quirk?

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message 1: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Hello authors! How's Monday treating you?

On our blog we post weekly challenges to help inspire authors to write better. This week, the challenge is to "create character quirks that matter."

In keeping with this, I thought it would be fun to hear about other authors' character quirks and how they fit into the story.

I'll start with my own example: in one of my stories, the villain is a smoker. It also helps the reader detect his presence on the page, because if someone is smoking in the shadows, then the reader automatically knows that it's him. I also liked how it helped him act like more of a jerk, because he could literally blow smoke into people's faces whenever he felt like it. :)

So, what is your character's quirk, and how does it help your story? Also, be sure to tell us what the name of your book is, so we can look it up if we're interested.

-H.C. Dallis


message 2: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Roberts | 616 comments Happy Monday!
Oh where to begin... Many of the characters in my book Rokula have quirks or otherwise distinguishing characteristics.

The MC, Drake 'Roky' Rokmonov, is a collector of kaleidoscopes. He has hundreds of them. No one understands his compulsion, least of all him. There is just something about the shiny trinkets that he can't resist.

Another character, Hyde, is distinguishable by smell similar to the character H.C. describes with some significant differences; Hyde is an enormous beast of a man who lacks personal hygiene and who has a fondness for cigars and motorcycles.


message 3: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Sorry to be argumentative, but I felt the need to clarify. Quirks are a personality traits, a part of a character's overall makeup. Smoking is just an addictive bad habit. So in the case of your character, the quirk would be "blowing smoke" in people's faces, as you show with the habit of smoking (which I like, by the way).

Anyway, nit-pickiness aside.

Eden in Eden Fell hallucinates. Or does she? The reader doesn't really find out until the end of the book.


message 4: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Hi Sarah! Wow, kaleidoscopes? You're a brave author to include those, simply because you'll have to type that word out over and over, haha. That sounds like a totally awesome way to create cool scenery, though: a room full of kaleidoscopes would be awesome. In fact, now I'm wondering if I ought to do that in real life... it would be an amazing conversation starter during dinner parties.

Hey Lily, no apologies necessary. Everyone can define "quirk" in their own way. I define it as any small element of a character which makes him unique within the context of the story. You can have whatever definition you want, it's no skin off our nose. As for hallucinations, that's actually one that would have a big impact on the plot... is that what the whole book is about? It sounds like it could potentially be pretty scary. :)


message 5: by Regina (last edited Apr 28, 2014 07:07AM) (new)

Regina Shelley (reginas) | 37 comments My main hero has asthma. He's an ex miner, and survived a mine explosion. That he knows his way around the mining business comes into play in my story (as does his asthma).

All my characters have quirks and habits, because everyone really does have quirks and habits.

One character constantly chews peppermint sticks (to ease his nicotine cravings), which later give the other characters a clue to his whereabouts when he goes missing. One of them has such a sweet tooth that he will go to great lengths to procure sweets (a fact that gets him into trouble later, when a late-night foray into the kitchen runs him into an intruder).

I actually go to great lengths to make character details a part of how each one interacts with others and with his or her environment. And they aren't just quirks for the sake of having quirks, either. They do matter in the story.


message 6: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Regina wrote: "My main hero has asthma. He's an ex miner, and survived a mine explosion. That he knows his way around the mining business comes into play in my story (as does his asthma).

Sounds like you put a lot of effort into this. Awesome to see a kindred spirit: I obsess over my character's quirks. I've changed and updated my character quirks so many times... at least now I know I'm not alone, haha.

I like the detail in the peppermint sticks, especially. Does this mean that this character gets into fights with the one who likes sweets?

Do you mind if I ask, what's the name of your book?


message 7: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Goodbadbizarre wrote: "Hi Sarah! Wow, kaleidoscopes? You're a brave author to include those, simply because you'll have to type that word out over and over, haha. That sounds like a totally awesome way to create cool sce..."

It's very dark fantasy ;) And yes you got it right, the whole plot revolves around the hallucinations.


message 8: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Dark fantasy with hallucinations / possible real scary stuff. Oh wow, that sounds so awesome. :)

LINK PLEASE. Send me a PM if necessary.


message 10: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Awesomesauce. I'll definitely check it out. :)


message 11: by Regina (last edited Apr 28, 2014 08:41AM) (new)

Regina Shelley (reginas) | 37 comments Hi, Goodbadbizarre (now, that's a moniker! :-) )

He doesn't, because there's always a supply of them. And Mr. Sweet Tooth is too busy battling the young woman who works in the kitchen over control of the honey crock to fight too much with Mr. Peppermint Addiction. ;-)

My book is
The Five Dollar Mail Book 1:The Green (that's Ex Miner and Sweet Tooth on the left most side of the cover.)


What is yours? I also love that sort of attention to detail.


message 12: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1826 comments Mod
The Distressing Damsel, my MC, is trusting and gets defensive when others are dismissive of her ability to take care of herself. She doesn't want anyone assuming she's hapless or helpless yet -because she's gives others her trust rather than insist they earn it - the Damsel does set herself up to be as vulnerable as her namesake.


message 13: by Dina (last edited Apr 28, 2014 09:03AM) (new)

Dina Roberts Sarah wrote: The MC, Drake 'Roky' Rokmonov, is a collector of kaleidoscopes. He has hundreds of them. No one understands his compulsion, least of all him. There is just something about the shiny trinkets that he can't resist.

I love that!


message 14: by Dina (new)

Dina Roberts One of my characters obsessively exercises; though I'm not sure if that's quirky or disordered.

Sometimes it's hard to know where the line is drawn.


message 15: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Regina wrote: "Hi, Goodbadbizarre (now, that's a moniker! :-) )

He doesn't, because there's always a supply of them. And Mr. Sweet Tooth is too busy battling the young woman who works in the kitchen over control..."


Wow, now I feel a little bad... you've told us your book but I can't tell you mine. Its not published yet. Oh well.


message 16: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Courtney wrote: "The Distressing Damsel, my MC, is trusting and gets defensive when others are dismissive of her ability to take care of herself. She doesn't want anyone assuming she's hapless or helpless yet -be..."

Wow Courtney, that's really well thought out... I like the spin on the Damsel's haplessness being her own fault. A lot of "rescue the damsel" stories seems to take it at face value that she's helpless and has no control, but it sounds like your book flips the script on that. Awesome.


message 17: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Dina wrote: "One of my characters obsessively exercises; though I'm not sure if that's quirky or disordered."

Hey, personally I'd say that a disorder counts as a quirk. Your Mileage May Vary, depending on your definition. :)

Is there a reason why your character exercises so much? Of course, you don't have to answer (and probably shouldn't) if that means spoilers, but I was just curious.

-H.C. Dallis


message 18: by Regina (new)

Regina Shelley (reginas) | 37 comments No need to feel bad. But feel free to ping me when it is, I am a sucker for quirky characters!


message 19: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Regina wrote: "No need to feel bad. But feel free to ping me when it is, I am a sucker for quirky characters!"

Thanks Regina, I will. It will probably be a while, though. Soooo much editing...


message 20: by Michael (new)

Michael Benavidez | 1696 comments My character for one of the many short stories, Eric Swenson, has this thing about taking in the details of the person and trying to evaluate how to take care of the situation based on it. has a lot to do with a background of who he was/is type of thing.


message 21: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1826 comments Mod
Thanks so much! I'm a firm advocate of competent, but flawed characters since you get to see them grow. Readers say they love them and I do also but I think they need to understand why a character has their quirks and respect them for compensating or over coming their limitations


message 22: by Dina (new)

Dina Roberts Goodbadbizarre wrote: " Is there a reason why your character exercises so much? Of course, you don't have to answer (and probably shouldn't) if that means spoilers, but I was just curious.

Thanks for being curious : )

The character's a bit concerned with her weight. I don't think that's too much of a spoiler.


message 23: by Regina (last edited Apr 28, 2014 11:19AM) (new)

Regina Shelley (reginas) | 37 comments Goodbadbizarre wrote: "Regina wrote: "No need to feel bad. But feel free to ping me when it is, I am a sucker for quirky characters!"

Thanks Regina, I will. It will probably be a while, though. Soooo much editing..."


Oh, yes. Editing. I feel you. Stay strong!

Dina...I like that. People ARE insecure. I have a plump character...she is an insecure, awkward teenage girl. I have a lot of fun writing her, because she seems so real to me (in fact, I probably remember her as myself). A lot of her insecurities drive her actions, as they should. That's just a human thing. So I like that quite a bit.


message 24: by Dina (new)

Dina Roberts Regina wrote: Is there a reason why your character exercises so much? Of course, you don't have to answer (and probably shouldn't) if that means spoilers, but I was just curious."

Thanks, Regina!

I like insecure characters as well. And like you, I can relate to them!


message 25: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 503 comments Quirk? I don't know if it's a quirk or not. Not being from Earth, my main character has problems with English and mainly its contractions. Since he falters when he tries to use them, he usually don't.


message 26: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Courtney wrote: "Thanks so much! I'm a firm advocate of competent, but flawed characters since you get to see them grow. Readers say they love them and I do also but I think they need to understand why a charact..."

Or, if you're like me, you love characters **for** having limitations in the first place, haha.

To Regina: thanks for the pep talk. I totally agree with liking insecure characters, too.


message 27: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1826 comments Mod
No, no Mary Sues for me. If their biggest problem is something like they're too pretty and wish they were slightly uglier so strangers won't stare all the time then I'm neither relating nor eager to see what personal journey they are embarking upon...


message 28: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments G.G. wrote: "Quirk? I don't know if it's a quirk or not. Not being from Earth, my main character has problems with English and mainly its contractions. Since he falters when he tries to use them, he usually don't."

Haha... "he usually don't."

I see what you did there. :)


message 29: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 503 comments @Goodbadbizarre :P


message 30: by Regina (last edited Apr 28, 2014 12:31PM) (new)

Regina Shelley (reginas) | 37 comments Courtney...I totally get that. I have seen it far too often in fiction and it really does make me roll my eyes. Because it's usually done to underscore how physically beautiful a character is and for no other reason.

I have a large cast of very human women and girls in my books, from insecure teenagers to sociopathic villains,and only one of them is really a head turner. And because she is, she can never really trust the motives of people around her. Her insecurities stem from the shallowness of other people. But she is far from being one of these beautiful, perfect heroines you see so often in books. She is popular with readers, not because she is pretty, but because she kind of represents the unfair, unattainable pedestal women get put upon, where their choices, brains, competence, and skills are not seen as important as the perceived values (looks, marriageability, femininity)thrust upon her.

All my women are a facet of "everywomen". That's what makes them fun to write.

I cannot STAND it when the entirety of a character's development is that they are "the woman" or worse, "the pretty woman."


message 31: by Dina (new)

Dina Roberts Regina wrote: ". And because she is, she can never really trust the motives of people around her. Her insecurities stem from the shallowness of other people."

There can be loneliness in beauty. I think it's a valid problem.

I think what's not good is when model-type characters overpopulate the world of fiction.

Or worse in film/television...where the "not-attractive" characters are often much more attractive than the average person in the real world.

As for having a character or two who feels troubled because of their beauty, I'd be okay with it. It might not be easily relatable, but that's the thing about reading. Sometimes you find characters that you can relate to. Other times, there are characters very different from you, and it helps to open your mind to different experiences.


message 32: by Goodbadbizarre (new)

Goodbadbizarre | 12 comments Regina wrote: "Courtney...I totally get that. I have seen it far too often in fiction and it really does make me roll my eyes. Because it's usually done to underscore how physically beautiful a character is and f..."

"Everywoman"... I love it! I've been making a point to read books with strong and realistic women, so I really applaud any author, male or female, who goes the extra mile when it comes to writing female characters. :D


message 33: by Regina (last edited Apr 28, 2014 07:07PM) (new)

Regina Shelley (reginas) | 37 comments I think what writers need to remember is that, to use a cliche, beauty really IS in the eye of the beholder. People think different things are beautiful. It's not realistic that every person thinks the exact same thing is attractive. So if we are seeing a story through a character's eyes, we should see their physicality the way that character would.

I have a short backstory about a popular side character that sometimes make an appearance on my blog. When he first meets the woman he eventually falls in love with, not only does she detest everything about him, but she finds his physical appearance nearly repulsive. In truth, he is an average-to-plain featured man, and as she gets to know him, he starts becoming more and more attractive to her. Personally, I find that my own feelings towards a person heavily color how I perceive the way they look.

I think that's a much more realistic way to show someone's real or imagined good (or bad) looks. And getting back to the main thrust of this thread, people's quirks, backstory, fears, prejudices, etc, very much influence how they perceive others and react.


message 34: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) My main character, Rain, finds himself becoming increasingly violent as he battles amnesia and what he feels is 'the right thing' to do in a number of situations.

Readers feel that growth within him because it's written in first person. It's a drive for the reader to keep wondering about his internal struggle and how he will grow next.

The book is R.E.birth


message 35: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1352 comments Mod
In my book, A Bloody Bloody Mess In The Wild Wild West, I have two main characters, the protagonist Emerson Shaw and the antagonist Javier ''Bones'' Jones.

Emerson's quirk is that he for the law, a go-getter if you will. Kind of like Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain in The Rifleman He sticks to his morales and is there for people when you need him but he can get out of line and show a temper every once in a while. He stands up for what he believes in.

Javier Jones' quirk is that he is brutually ruthless and loves to kill. He has no cause or concern for his actions and killing brings him great satisfaction. It is because he likes to kill that early on in the book when dead bodies turn up the town naturally assumes its the work of Jones, would they be right? Well you'll just have to find that out for yourself.


message 36: by M.D. (new)

M.D. Meyer (mdmeyer) | 157 comments I not sure if any of my characters have quirks although one likes to collect books (is that a quirk?). No wait. One does. I almost forgot, the bad guy has a long pointed fingernail on his pinky finger (as in Angel Heart).


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