Sunday, April 3, 2011

Give Your Characters Character

Well what do you know, your characters are just like people. Give them quirks, talents, and mannerisms.

Does your space pilot always fiddle with the seat adjustments when he climbs into the space flying machine thingy, even if he was the last person to fly it (much to the annoyance of his copilot)?

That coffee barista in your novel- she repaints her nails nearly every day (adding little fancy details such as spots and stripes), because she loves the compliments of her customers.

Nail Polish
Maybe your fairy has a bent wing because she's always flying recklessly through the forest.

Truffle fairies
 Don't make a huge deal out of these little idiosyncrasies, for that could get annoying. "There's Sunbeam with her bent wing." "How's your bent wing, Sunbeam." "Gee, my bent wing sure is bent today." But memorable details can add character to your characters. I dare you to imagine Hugh Laurie's House without a limp or Indiana Jones with no hat.

Hugh Laurie

Indiana Jones
How about the individuality of every incarnation of the Doctor (in the Doctor Who series)? Aside from each one's signature costume (ie.Tom Baker's ridiculously long scarf, Peter Davison's celery in the lapel, and David Tennant's Converse), they all have unique habits and talents. For instance- Patrick Troughton's Doctor plays the recorder and Tom Baker eats Jelly Babies. And those are just some obvious traits. They also have particular mannerisms.

Tiny Tom Baker (4th Doctor)

Patrick Troughton (2nd Doctor)
Something to think about- Does the flaw, foible, or signature hat impact the character in some way? Will her peanut allergy defeat her after she battles fifteen ninjas single-handedly? How about this- the fact your professor knows ancient Hittite will come in handy because *whoosh* the characters fall through a crack in time! And remember Indiana Jones' fear of snakes? Yep, he had to face those legless reptiles. Lots of them.

Indy's Hat
Don't let all of your characters look at their hands when they are nervous. Observe the people around you. See what they do. Everyone behaves differently when feeling particular emotions. Your best friend sighs and sits back in her chair. Her dad chews the side of his thumb nail. Sally, from next door, twists the hem of her T-shirt. Get the picture? Good. Now your readers will too. :)

Fiona and Avery say, "Now get writing."
*Links to image sources embeded in captions (unless the image is my own)


Nissa Annakindt said...

I never knew the 2nd Doctor shared my secret vice....

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Ha! Right on!

Beth said...

Characters with idiosyncrasies are always more interesting!

Amanda Borenstadt said...

I agree, Beth. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

I love all these unique, character quirks. Some of my most beloved characters stand out because of them.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Thanks for dropping by, Medeia. :)
Oh, mine too! :)

Joylene Butler said...

These are all great characteristics. I've got to incorporate something interesting in my characters today. Thanks for making me think.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Yay! You're welcome, Joylene. :)

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