When creating a fictional character, it is of my humble opinion that one should always infuse a certain amount of quirkiness into the character's being. Whether you want to show your reader that character's quirky side or not is up to you, but if you truly know your character, you know the funky little things they do.
Well, it certainly makes a person more lovable. I had a roommate once upon a time, whom I will not name, but state I no longer keep in touch with this person (just in case any of my old roomies are reading this and wondering if it is you - it's not!), who was a bit of a tight ass. She was polite enough, and smart enough, and honestly charming enough on the surface level, but she walked a bit of a tightrope between Debbie Downer and Serious Sue. She just couldn't let loose and laugh, and I always felt every word out of my mouth was being judged and calculated. She absolutely could not make a mistake and took perfectionist to the extreme. Oddly enough, talking to our other roommate years later, each of us had felt strongly that this particular roommate preferred the others' company and disliked us!
Anyway, one day as I was taking a long walk with this particular roommate, she opened up and told me something odd about her hands. I don't totally remember what it was anymore, but it had something to do with blue nails and cold fingertips and nerves and insecurities. And in that moment, knowing this odd quirky thing about how her hands reacted physically to any emotional insecurities she was dealing with, I decided that I really liked her. That tiny bit of insight made her human and real and vulnerable, and I adored her. She went from being this uptight, cold shoulder robot to a real person who was just as annoyed about hiding herself with her uptight ways as I was living with them.
Sometimes quirks do just that, make a person more human. Sometimes quirks make a person easier to relate to. Sometimes, quirks make people more charming, like Zooey Deschanel's character in Yes Man. Sometimes quirks make people annoying. Sometimes, quirks confuse people, like Claire Dunphy in Modern Family who inadvertently smiles when giving bad news.
We all have quirks, little things like tapping our toes or averting our eyes, or talking too fast when we meet people, or avoiding black cats and ladders. Some little thing that our conscious mind just can't quite control. Figure out what your character does, his/her "tell" as it were for poker players, and see how it plays out in the character's career and relationships.
Our quirks are often complex in relationship, those things that first attract and then repel. Classic things that first make us unique and then make us too different.
Think of a guy with, say, a collection of old Hot Wheels. Maybe kind of cool at first, makes the girl dig his playful side and see the kid at heart, perhaps see a potential for some good cash from collectors on eBay when time comes to give up the bachelor pad. Then super annoying when dinner conversations turn to Hot Wheels makes and models and the cars that he wishes they had produced. Quirky.
writercize: Give your character something 2-3 quirks to work with, something to make them unique. It is best if it is a trait that has the power to both endear and annoy, depending on the relationship and circumstances.
You can do this to create a new character, or you can pick a character in your story to finesse.
Leave your writercize as a comment and be sure to leave your website so I can come pay you a visit! I am a bit behind on visiting blogs with A to Z and quite a bit of travel this month, but I will make it sooner or later and love to see your creative juices flowing!
Click "read more" for writercize sample response.
Character: Milo Drath (from a random name generator)
- Milo has spent his life deciding if he likes it better when people call him My-Low or Me-Low, so he never corrects them. He just goes off into a brief reflective daze when referred to by name.
- Milo always knock four times silently followed by one loud, strong knock. In those four silent knocks, he clears his throat and prepares himself for conversation.
- Milo will not use the bathroom at a woman's house until they have been on at least five dates. As a consequence, his look of mild stomach pain is often confused with boredom and he rarely makes it past five dates.