Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quirks: What Makes a Character a Character #challenge #atozchallenge

You know when you're reading a book and the main character gets nervous and you can tell his hands are about to start sweating? Or you're watching a show and the bad guy says something and you're all,"Oh hell no! That was the wrong thing to say!"? 

That's because through all the reading or watching, you've gotten to know the character. A character that you can't start to tell these things about is no fun. They're basically a one dimensional red shirt. (For those of you not familiar with the reference, all you need to know is that red shirts are good for one thing and one thing alone- dying, quickly)

Quirks, no matter how silly they are, are what makes a character we care about. Take for instance Larry Flienhardt from Numb3rs and his penchant for white food. 

It's the most ridiculous thing, but it's part of what makes him who he is. 

More famous character quirks:
  • If Hermione Granger has a question about something, where would she find the answer?
  • If Katniss Everdeen is going to kill something, what weapon will she use?
  • If you put Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Thor in a room, which one of them is going to make a smarmy remark?
Don't go making the mistake that character quirks have to be these outlandish things like Johnny has to flip the light switch five times whenever he enters a room. Subtle things like Suzy getting a cup of tea whenever she needs to think things over or Amy fidgeting with her bracelet work. Often times the little things are more effective when trying to connect a character with the audience. 

Sure, it's fun when a character has some wacky way out there quirk. By no means am I condemning that, but not every character should be that way.

My advice, spend some time people watching. Take stock of what real people do around you on a day to day basis. You might be surprised by how silly some of their rituals are, but for sure you'll walk away with a little more insight into people's quirks. The next step is applying them in your writing. 


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A Few Random AtoZ Blogs:

Because the AtoZ participants list is so massive, I don't include it here. However, I would like to give some love to my fellow bloggers, so I thought I'd pick a couple of random blogs to link to that y'all can check out at your discretion.

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