Writing Wednesdays: Some ideas for character quirks

Do you struggle coming up with little quirks for your characters? In this post, I share a few ideas that might inspire you.

This post is going to be less of an advice-centric one and more of a list of ideas of characteristics and personality quirks your characters can have that might make them seem less two-dimensional. Do with these what you will!

You might also like this post on writing relatable characters, or this post on character development.

Think of people you know. Watch movies and look at how people act in them to display emotion or just little things they do.

Some people talk with their hands a lot. (I do this.) When they get more excited about something, the gestures can get more exuberant and wild. When they’re down, they might be more subdued with the gesturing.

Some people have little giveaways when they’re lying – they might look down, or away from the person they’re talking to. They might sniff before they talk, scratch their nose, tug on their ear.

A confident character might do the following: talk over people sometimes (even if they don’t mean to do it in a rude way), draw themselves up to their full height, set their shoulders back and hold their chin high when they talk, and have a loud voice, clearly enunciating words and maybe using a lot of emphasis as they feel necessary.

Shy characters, on the other hand, might look at their feet as they walk and talk, or mumble, or take a deep breath (to steel themselves?) before they talk, or bite their lip after saying something.

Giving your characters little quirks here and there might not seem like a big deal, or anything important, but it can make your characters come to life just a little bit more.

Cracking knuckles, playing with hair (this doesn’t have to be a gesture when flirting – it might just be habit), smirks, eye rolling, blushing – it all counts to making your characters jump off the page.

Think about their laugh. this can say a lot about a person. Maybe it’s a practiced, high-pitched giggle. A low chuckle. A full-bellied laugh that gives them stitches in their sides and makes their jaw ache. Maybe it’s more of a scoff, an exhalation, than anything else – like they’re too cool to laugh. Maybe there’s snorting as well - are they embarrassed by the fact that they snort when they laugh too hard?

The way they talk can be important too. If they talk slowly and clearly maybe it’s a sign that they think through what they’re going to say; babbling is a sign of excitement or nervousness; someone boisterous might shout a lot.

Obviously, you don’t constantly have to describe how your characters laugh or talk, but it can be worth commenting on every so often, especially if it’s something out of character for them.

Hopefully that’s been helpful for those of you struggling to think of little characteristics to help write more relatable characters.

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