Friday, July 27, 2012

Guest Blog: Building Character Quirks by Amber Colleen


Pieces of You…Pieces of Me…  Building memorable character ‘quirks’

There are many ways to create a memorable characters, one of them is to give your characters interesting ‘quirks’. Where do you find unique and believable personality traits to implement into your character profiles? Start with yourself, your family, your friends and people who catch your attention in everyday life.

Yourself – How do you know if you have any quirks worth writing about? That’s easy. These are the things about you that family members will joke about, tease you about, find irritating or funny and are mentioned over and over. As my son and daughter lovingly point out, I often make jokes that nobody else thinks are funny, and I laugh and laugh at my own humor. In one of my novels,  the protagonist has this same trait and her quirky way of dealing with intense situations through humorless jokes is a big part of her character and also enables me, the writer, to express her thoughts in a engrossing manner.

Another tactic is to incorporate your own hobbies into your characters as long as it adds to the story. For example, my son and I trained for 6 years in martial arts and are both black belts. The main character, Mallory, in my novel Premonitions, also has trained with her son in martial arts. While in most aspects of her personality, she is a regular mom, this gives her the tools she needs to fight the terrorists when she finds herself trapped in a locked down elementary school. Her actions are believable, because she has this background, and I can write intelligently about it because I know it.

Family Members – There is an endless supply of personality traits and quirks within your own family! Every family has those crazy characters that make family dinners and events entertaining or dramatic. My son, age 13, is a quirky kid. He is very smart, but common sense is not among his finer qualities. In the novel I am currently working on, No Such Thing As Coincidence, the protagonist is a super-genius that can hardly function in the world outside his brilliant mind. I took my sons lack of common sense and exploded it into this characters personality. Finding a fun quirk among family members and blowing it up is a believable way to embed interesting personality traits into your characters. Be mindful to make sure the quirks you choose for your characters enrich your story. The super-genius based on my son uses this quirk for intense concentration he needs in his medical research to cure diseases.

Keep your eye open for unique ‘quirks’ among your friends and people you see every day. There is endless material everywhere  you look!
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Amber Collen mothers, thrives, and writes in North Carolina and can be found on her website, Facebook Fan Page, and on Twitter via @amber_colleen
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Want to guest blog on this site? Contact Rick at anilyb@earthlink.net .

3 comments:

Shelia said...

Amber! Great advice. I’m writing my fifth novel with a female protagonist and am having trouble with this character sounding like all the other protagonists. After reading your blog I realized that in my latest work I’d mentioned that my protagonist was an excellent seamstress and that her first born was a girly-girl but neither of those statements really helped explain or define those characters. Now, I have work to do to go back and show these traits throughout the story.

Thanks! A million ideas are running through my brain.

Rick Bylina said...

Shelia...Look at that. You finally got a comment to stick. But I must say I'm disappointed. Only a million ideas! :-)

Write on!

Amber Colleen said...

Thanks so much Sheila! Happy writing!