Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Guest Post by author Cait Drews

I asked my good friend Cait to do a guest post for me yesterday. I wasn't sure if she would be able to scramble something up for me on such short notice, but, as always, she surprised and delighted me with this frabjous post. Enjoy!!!

Readers have a super sixth sense when it comes to characters. They can smell a fake a kilometre away.

As writers, one of the most important things we do is create characters. Serious characters. Lively characters. Annoying characters. Besides good plots (because, yes, good plots are kind of important too) characters are the most important thing to waltz through your story. I read Lemony Snicket’s books purely for his characters. And maybe his humour is pretty amusing too. But I digress.
When a new (and soon to be poorly abused) character graces my novels, they have a list of requirements to fulfil. First, they fill out a form promising they will not prosecute in court if their part in my novel goes seriously wrong. Second, they give me a rough idea of their looks, name, and brief back story. And third (most important too), they list their quirks.
quirk: (noun)
meaning an odd mannerism or peculiar habit

Quirks are very important. They define your characters. They make your characters real. And they’re kind of fun to write.
So knowing your characters need quirks is different to giving them out. How do you do it? Where do they fit in? What kind of quirks?

A good place for figuring out funky quirks is – you. And the people in your life.  

Does your father wipe his glasses when he’s thinking? Do you chew your index finger when you’re worried? Does your neighbour water his flowers at exactly eight o’clock every night? (Which leads you to wonder if there are bodies under the veranda…)

But when looking for different quirks, go far and wide. Don’t make the mistake of replicating everyone you personally know in your books. 

Your characters might be fast eaters. Their breath might smell like lemongrass. They might have an intense look in their eyes at all times. They might jump at the slightest movement. Or do they do rub their hands on their trousers when they’re anxious? Are their feet constantly moving? Is their hair always in their face?

Places to put quirks in your characters’ personalities:

In their dialogue
In their posture
In their facial expression
In their movements
In their clothing style

Some quirks to avoid (because they’re becoming cliché):

Biting bottom lip
Crooked smile
Impossibly hot looks
Running hand through hair
Laughter like tinkling bells

Quirks make characters real. A real character puts life into your novel. And that’s what we writers want, isn’t it?

Do your characters have quirks? Are they realistic and relatable? Tell me a few!

Between writing, eating pistachio nuts, and reading Lemony Snicket, Cait blogs at Notebook Sisters. Because research is too hard, she writes fantasy, a little on the darker side, and has finished six novels. Her favourite hobby is rewriting said six novels. She is 18 years old, a homeschool graduate, and chocolate devotee. If she’s not practising the cello, haunting the library or blogging about her frabjous adventures, you can find her at the computer, creating whole new worlds.

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  1. Caaaaiiiiiit! I know you! Sort of. Kind of. Virtually. :)

    And the quirk thing is brilliant. I must look into it. :)

    1. Hi Treskie! I know YOU too!! (Yes, kind of...and virtually... but that's beside the point.) I pop up in the most varied places, eh? :)

  2. Quirks are cool! I think I add them without realizing it sometimes. :P But I will definitely take note of your list of dos and don'ts. It will be helpful when the creativity is drained.
    How does one laugh like tinkling bells? Seriously? I've read it plenty of times, but I still can't hear it.

    1. It's true. And laughing like *a running brook*. I mean, really? I have never heard it. Most people laugh like a freight train about to derail, but at least we know it's legit.
      Glad you liked the post!

  3. This is a good reminder. A lot of my characters share quarks...so I need to write them down and make sure no one has someone else's. Also, I use the biting lip one a lot, I will have to remember to lessen that one, or not use it at all. Very helpful reminder.

    I would be more then happy to do a guest post for you. You can comment me the information, or you can email me at jacklewisbaillot@gmail.com. Whichever works best for you.
    I enjoyed Cait's 8-D And I am glad I found this blog. I like your other as well, but I adore writing blogs 8-D


    1. Thank you Jack! Don't worry, a lot of my characters share the same habits and gestures too. I have to coax them into seperate ones. :] Instead of *biting the lip*, sometimes I do *chew inside of cheek* or *press lips in a thin line*.