Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Monday Musing: Characterization – As Quirky as you Want to Be

Written By: Tracy - Oct• 18•10

Quick! Think of your favorite fictional character! Now think about what sets that character apart from your generic hero/villain/sidekick.   Chances are, the character had some kind of quirk that made them stand out to you.

When you are writing a novel, character flaws and quirks are odd little tics that set a character apart. For example, Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is a walking bundle of character quirks. She’s always battling her weight, she keeps her gun in a cookie jar, her car blows up in every novel and her family is more than slightly crazy.

 

Character flaws can be a source of entertainment, or they can drive a novel. In Dan Wells’s book I am Not a Serial Killer, his primary character, John Wayne Cleaver, suspects that he might have serial killer tendencies. In order to avoid actually becoming a serial killer, John adopts certain habits and behaviors to keep himself under control.

If your character quirks aren’t strong enough, you run the risk that your character may seem like a cookie cutter of every other character out there. The only quirk that Stephanie Meyers’s Bella character has is that she is clumsy. And yet, the Bella archetype in the hands of Cleolinda has plenty of character quirks that make her likeable (she confides in a cactus and bakes pastries for the war effort.)

Character quirks are defining traits of a character. They have little to do with appearance. Giving someone an unusual or exotic appearance is not a character quirk. Making someone ‘beautiful, but not aware of it’ is not a character quirk.

In the novel that I’ve just completed, the primary character goes out of her way to be annoying to the people around her. She either keeps people at arm length through sarcasm or she does things without realizing it to sabotage relationships. (She constantly abuses her laptop. Without realizing it, she is being passive-aggressive toward her editor for making her carry a laptop.)  All of this unconscious maneuvering to keep people at a distance stems from her rocky family relationships. Coming to terms with these family relationships becomes the driving force behind the story.

In her clinic on character creation, author Holly Lisle writes that:

“ . . .if you have a name and a physical description right away — Jane Meslie, 37, blonde with bright blue eyes and great legs and a habit of flipping her hair out of her face when she’s frustrated — you’re going to be tempted to look no deeper that her appearance. When she gets into trouble, you’re going to fall back on that hair-flipping thing, and she’s going to do it so often she’ll be bald by the end of the book.”

Besides, if someone isn’t aware that they are beautiful, why would they be aware of their appearance?  Most people who aren’t cognizant of their beauty are usually focused on other things, such as the fact that their car just exploded, again.

 

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42 Comments

  1. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

    • Tracy says:

      In the Clinic on Characterization that I linked to, the author suggested having quirks that were outgrowths of internal characterization.

      She called the generic list of quirks (Like flipping hair, jangling car keys, sauntering, etc.) “crutches” that can be mistaken for characterization.

      In other words, the fact that a person likes to chew their pencils is not a quirk that is an outgrowth of characterization. The fact that a person will compulsively lie about things even when the truth would be easier to tell just might be.

  2. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  3. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  4. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  5. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  6. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  7. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  8. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  9. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  10. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  11. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  12. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  13. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  14. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  15. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  16. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  17. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  18. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  19. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  20. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.

  21. Arguing the other side of this from the reader’s POV: an author must also not be fooled into thinking that quirkiness is an adequate substitute for genuine characterization. As a reader, I’m a nut for good characterization, and will forgive a book a lot of other flaws if it gives me characters that feel real and make me care about them. But I gave up on the Cat Who books after reading 3 of them, because it felt like all the characters in there were just walking cardboard collections of quirks, with nothing else behind them.

    A gamer I once knew had a list of quirks you could roll against when creating a character, because he said that made for more interesting characters. However, he also limited the number of quirk rolls for any given character to three, because he felt that more than that would be counterproductive for most players to work with — the actual roleplaying would be lost in the effort of trying to keep up with all the quirks. I think that’s good advice for writers as well.