1001 Character Quirks
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1001 Character Quirks for Writing Fiction
Copyright © 2007 J. Timothy King. All rights reserved. Cover: The Las Vegas strip at night Cover design by J. Timothy King. Original photo courtesy PDPhoto.org. Published by J. Timothy King. http://quirks.jtimothyking.com/ First edition: November 2007 Printed in the United States of America.
A note about printing this ebook: Feel free to print out this this ebook for your own, personal use. For best results, print it double-sided on 8-1/2” x 11” paper, flipping left to right. You can then bind the pages along the left-hand side. For example, you could punch the pages with a 3-hole punch and then place them in a 3-ring binder or report cover.
Table of Contents Using this Book.......................................................................................................................4 Enhancing Character with Quirks..........................................................................................4 Start by giving him some character................... character............................ .................. .................. .................. ................. ................. .........................5 ................5 Use quirks to generate character ideas................. ideas.......................... .................. .................. ..............................................7 .....................................7 Use quirks to show his character.................... character............................. .................. .................. .................. ................. ...................................7 ...........................7 Make his quirks relevant to the story.................. story.......................... ................. .................. .................. .................. ................. ................. ................8 .......8 Explain his quirks with back-story................... back-story............................ .................. .................. .................. ................. ...................................8 ...........................8 Juxtapose him against his opposite................. opposite.......................... .................. .................. .................. ................. ..................................9 ..........................9 Have him face someone who doesn’t doesn ’t get his quirk......... q uirk.................. .................. .................. .................. ................. ................... ...........9 9 Put him in a situation where his quirk doesn’t fit...................... fit............................... .................. .................. ..........................10 .................10 Have him respond to a dramatic situation................. situation......................... ................. .................. .................. .................. ................. ...............10 .......10 Add quirks just for fun!............... fun!........................ .................. ................. ................. .................. .................. .................. ................. ................. .....................10 ............10 Coming up With Your Own Character Quirks.....................................................................11 Keep a character journal................ journal......................... .................. .................. .................. ................. ................. .................. .................................11 ........................11 Observe real life............... life........................ .................. .................. ................. ................. .................. .................. .................. ......................................11 .............................11 Ask what would make things more interesting for your character.......................................12 character.......................................12 Have your character do something you wouldn’t expect.................... expect.....................................................12 .................................12 Use the opposite of o f what you would do................. do.......................... .................. .................. ............................................12 ...................................12 Pull superstitions out the archives... or just invent them................. them.......................... .................. ............................12 ...................12 Get to know people who are different than you................. you.......................... ................. .........................................13 .................................13 Ask Google, Yahoo, Technorati, or another search engine................... engine............................ .................. .....................13 ............13 Ask yourself how people got where they are................... are........................... ................. .................. ...................................13 ..........................13 Throw two away....................................................................................................................13 Be well rested.......................................................................................................................14 Get
How to Multiply Character Quirks........................................................................................15 Describing the Character and Writing the Story.................................................................15 The Widow’s Granddaughter................................................................................................18 The Quirks.............................................................................................................................20
Using this Book The world’s favorite, most famous, most memorable characters have one thing in common. They have personality. That is, they are unique, unlike any other character. ●
Curious George is a curious little monkey, and it always gets him into trouble.
Sherlock Holmes observes everything, draws astounding conclusions by coordinating
masses of facts, plays violin, and uses drugs. ●
Tyler Durden is fearless and a little crazy. (Okay, a lot.) And his plans, no matter how
crazy, always work. (Almost.) ●
Michael Corleone will do literally anything to protect his family’s interests.
Darth Vader has has the force in his hand and uses a mechanical breather.
Huckleberry Finn is an orphan, and a loner even though still just a boy.
Homer Simpson says, “Mmm... Donuts...” and means it.
And Spongebob Squarepants is... Yeah, well, you get the point.
Each of these characters is memorable, because he has a set of unusual characteristics, quirks, that we associate with him. Quirks can also be funny. (Of course, not every quirky character is a funny one. But most funny characters are quirky.) The thing you have to remember is that quirks do not make the character. Quirks can only bring out what character is already there. That’s why you should know who your character is before you start giving him quirks. This book will help you come up with quirks to give your characters. But if the question is which quirks to give, this is not a list of 1001 answers. Rather, it is a list of 1001 follow-up questions. It is a tool for you to come up with your own ideas for character quirks. Naturally, you may use any of the quirks in this book as-is, but to get the most you can out of them, use them to spark your own ideas, because only you truly know your own characters. The beginning of this book is a tutorial. It starts with an overview of how to create a character and goes into ten ways to use quirks to enhance your character. I’ll use an example character to demonstrate the process. Then I talk about 12 techniques you can use to come up with your own quirks. I also go over 8 ways you can multiply character quirks, to take these 1001 character quirks and turn them into 2000, 3000, 10000, or even more. And I wrap up with a 5step process you can use to turn your character into a story, even if you’ve never written a story before. I also include a snippet of a story starring the character we created in the book. Finally comes a list of 1001 numbered quirks. This is the bulk of the book. Some of the quirks are general. Others, specific. Some are shallow. Others strike deep. Some are only quirky for certain characters. Others are so strange, you may not even want them in your story. And some quirks overlap with others, because different overlapping variations spark different ideas. Some are patently offensive, because some characters are patently offensive. Quirks are not all about fun. Sometimes they are about villainy. In all the character quirks, I use the pronoun “he” to refer to the character. However, remember that each of these can refer to female and male characters alike. Also note that quirks can be applied to characters of any age. However, some quirks are cute on a small child, but creepy on an adult. And others that are appropriate for an adult are disturbing on a child.
Enhancing Character with Quirks I chose this phrasing carefully: enhancing character character with quirks. Some writers think that quirks make the character. It’s a common misconception, because many laypeople—readers, 4
1001 Character Quirks
viewers, critics—talk about a character’s quirks as if they were the character, because they associate a character’s quirks with the character himself. Let me repeat that: We associate each character’s quirks with the character. This is what makes him more memorable, because we remember things through association. The human brain is not designed just to store data like a computer. Rather, we remember things by associating them with other things. This is the basis of every memorization technique, helping you form associations between things you know and things you need to remember. So if you want your fictional character to be memorable, you need to associate the part that makes him a character with the part that people remember. In other words, you need to link his quirks with his character. But what is character? Character is what happens under the surface. As Holly Lisle says, character is “who you are when no one is looking, and who you are when someone is looking, and how those two people are different, and why.” Character is what makes a person. The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English 2007 defines defines character as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” Don’t expect to be able to throw a bunch of quirks together to form a character. Quirks can enhance character, but they cannot make it. However, they can make a character more interesting. Because a character’s quirks make him more unique, unlike any other character in any other story. Therefore, his quirks make him more memorable. But use them judiciously. Deep characters usually have well chosen quirks that support their character. These apply to a plethora of situations and make the character seem consistent in his quirks. For example, Holmes’s were(but thatcorrect) he observed everything and processed large numbersSherlock of facts quickly to major arrive quirks at startling conclusions. In the following discussion, I give diverse examples of using various quirks. These are just examples. Most of them I picked at random, just to demonstrate the techniques. I probably wouldn’t give a single character all of the quirks I talk about. Rather, I’d start with several that do the most for the story, then add more as the story demanded it. And as you can see, that’s what I do in the example story. Characters with many quirks are frequently shallow by nature, because the quirks make them inconsistent. But they also can be very entertaining. You can add these characters to any scene to spice it up. In fact, you can usually just add an appropriate quirk to make that particular scene work. You don’t have to think very much about being consistent with the character, because there’s not much character there. These characters can be very effective minor characters, but they usually can’t make an engaging story. The ultimate such character is Kirk Gleason, from the television show Gilmore Girls. Kirk had a different career in every episode, whatever fit with the episode. He lived with his mother, but he also had hundreds of thousands of dollars saved (from all those careers no doubt). He had a mass of phobias and psychoses, yet was always seen engaging in stunts, or being put in charge of something and screwing it up, or whatever. It was hilarious. It was said that if a scene felt slow, the writers would just add Kirk to it, and that would fix it right up. Kirk was a very memorable character, but he was never asked to be the center of any major story line. Start by giving him some character.
As I said above, you might want an extremely quirky, shallow, minor character that you can throw into a scene for comedic effect. But your major characters must have much more. They should feel like real people, with needs, history, dreams, ambitions, friends, values, a career, hobbies, and so forth. The more you will demand from a character, and the more, greater, and longer the story he must fill, the deeper he’ll need to be. Enhancing Character with Quirks
Each author has his own process he uses to create characters. I’ll describe a process I’ve found works well. Usually, I have some idea of how a character fits into the story even before I create him. On the other hand, creating a character produces story ideas, because character and story interrelate with each other. So creating a character will generate story ideas, and creating a story will generate character ideas. I use a several resources to create my characters. Usually the first thing I do is to write up a psychological profile based on the character’s personality. This gives me an idea of how the character will respond to various situations. I head over to http://www.PersonalityPage.com/ http://www.PersonalityPage.com/,, pick a personality type, and use it to write up a psychological profile on my character. I don’t just copy the information from the site, but rather rather customize it for my character. I may downplay some characteristics of my character’s personality type, exaggerate others. I may combine characteristics of one type with those of another, because none of us is truly of a single personality type. We all have characteristics from all personality types; but we tend to prefer one type above the others. So when creating a psychological profile for a character, it’s not about choosing a personality type and copying it verbatim, but about using it as a basis for the character’s profile. The Personality Page site also has areas for careers, relationships, and personal growth, each of which I also draw on for my character’s profile. Then I go through Holly Lisle’s Create A Character Clinic , fleshing out the character with needs, back-story, and so forth. Read more about this excellent tool at http://BeTheStory.com/ccc/.. The Character Clinic contains contains a large list of questions that http://BeTheStory.com/ccc/ challenge me to define my character’s characteristics. There are many lists of characterbuilding questions on the Internet, but the Character Clinic is is the single best resource I’ve found for fleshing out fictional characters. Here’s an abbreviated set of questions you can use (based on the Character Clinic and and on other resources): ●
What are his needs and goals? How does he pursue or avoid them? What obstacles does he face?
What are the best and worst things that ever happened to him? How do they affect him?
What things has he done that he’s proudest of and most ashamed of?
How does he think others perceive him? How does he perceive himself? What would he most like to change about himself? What are his job and hobbies? How did he h e get them? Does he enjoy them? What does he like best about them? Who does he work with, love, and associate with? How does he feel about them? How did they meet? What do they do together? Who is the most important person in his life? Who does he look up to? Who does he hate or avoid? Why does he avoid them? How does he feel about them? What happened to make him feel that way? What is his ethnic or cultural heritage? How did he acquire it? How strongly does he associate himself with it? What are his values and religious beliefs? How did he acquire these? How far will he go to uphold them? How does observe his religion?
What does he most fear, and what does he most hope for? What is his deepest secret?
Where does he live? Why? What does he love and hate most about his community?
Notice what’s missing from the above list: his name, sex, height, eye and hair color, other physical characteristics, nervous gestures, and so forth. Because these things rarely have anything to do with character. Rather, they are quirks, and they should be defined later. 6
1001 Character Quirks
Sometimes, you can use them to support his character. For example, if he has a Jewish heritage, you might choose a Jewish name and physical characteristics for him. But most of the time, you can pick them out of a hat. You add them for effect, but they don’t define his character. Use quirks to generate character ideas.
Many times, the character’s characteristics are self-evident. But you can also use the list of quirks to generate ideas for these characteristics. For example, let’s create a character. We’ll call him “Jeffrey.” Jeffrey is outgoing, has a strong sense of values, and is in a job in which he’s always being but asked disregard thoseand values. specifically, in protecting people’s feelings, he to works for a bank oftenMore has to deny loanshe orbelieves to repossess property that has been put up as collateral. Of course, there are many obvious questions. Why would he take a job that would clearly make him so conflicted? And why doesn’t he quit? What events from his past gave him his values and made him feel so strongly about them? And so forth. We need to answer all these questions in order to flesh out the character. But for now, I’m going to ask a completely different question. What hobbies does Jeffrey have? That’s a legitimate character question, and it should be answered, even if the answer is that he has no hobbies. (But then, why does he h e have no hobbies? Maybe because he lives for his career?) For ideas, try going to the list of quirks. For example, look at quirk #253, “Knows sign language fluently.” That could be a hobby. That implies more potential ideas, too. Maybe he’s interested in issues surrounding deafness, perhaps because of a past experience involving a deaf loved one. Or maybe he’s an amateur linguist, always learning new languages. Or going in another direction, an amateur archaeologist, always studying ancient civilizations. Another example: I flip at random to quirk #703, “Thinks that the last last good novel, movie, video game, etc. came out 5 years ago.” There are several good ideas there. Maybe he loves reading novels. Or loves watching movies. Or loves playing video games. Those are hobbies. And maybe he blogs about his love of novels, or movies, or video games. And maybe he hates most of the novels that are published. Maybe he looks for novels that sell poorly, reasoning that those are the ones he’ll like best, because the best sellers are all popular dreck. dr eck. (See quirk #560.) So I guess I stretched the truth. I said that quirks quir ks can't make the character. But going down d own your list of quirks can help you generate ideas that will make the character. Use quirks to show his character.
In other words, invoke the power of “show; “ show; don’t tell.” In case you haven’t heard the phrase yet, “show; don’t tell” is one of the basic rules of writing. It means that instead of telling the reader, “Jeffrey is outgoing,” you show it by what Jeffrey says and does. In our example, our character Jeffrey J effrey is outgoing, believes strongly in protecting others’ feelings, and is caught in a job where he is required to disregard that belief. So consider, for instance, these quirks: ●
Quirk #295, “Claims to be out for himself, but always seems to put others first.” This pretty much describes Jeffrey’s career and how it conflicts with his personality. We could include this quirk as part of Jeffrey’s description, but it would be more powerful to tell one or more stories of how Jeffrey said he was out for himself but accomplished a more noble result. Quirk #535, “Prattles on about trivia when there are significant matters to discuss.” Someone might do that if he doesn’t want to face the “significant matters.” In Jeffrey’s case, these significant matters could include conflicts about people’s feelings. He
Enhancing Character with Quirks
probably also avoids talking about the conflict between his actions and his values, by digressing into trivia. ●
Quirk #791, “Tries to get along with everyone by always giving in to everyone.” Because Jeffrey cares deep down about others’ feelings, he tends to give into them. He probably rationalizes doing his job on the same grounds, giving into his boss to avoid upsetting him.
These are just a few examples I pulled almost at random from the list. There are many more. And with the techniques I’ll explore below, to multiply multiply a quirk into multiple quirks, there are even more alternatives. The basic idea, however, goes back to human memory and how it works. To make your character memorable, you need to associate his quirks, those unique details the layman remembers, with the character himself. That’s what you accomplish when you link his quirks and his personality. Make his quirks relevant to the story.
The most important part of your character is his story. A character becomes memorable not only when we associate his quirks with his character, but also when we associate them with his story. So use quirks to generate story ideas, by putting him in situations where his quirks will produce conflict. For example: ●
Quirk #251, “Beautiful (or handsome), except for a single physical deformity.” How might this make him feel about his own self-esteem? Maybe Jeffrey keeps the job he has, because he doesn’t feel he deserves anything better. Then his internal battle is one of self-esteem. Quirk #428, “Attracted to a specific feature of the opposite sex not usually considered sexy [like a woman’s] thumbs.” How does Jeffrey explain to the woman of his dreams that he’s fallen in love with her thumbs? Especially since she has a bad vibe from him, because when they met, he kept staring at her thumbs. Quirk #749, “Always seems to be having accidents (or causing them).” This one seems to have been made to cause story s tory conflict. An accident could get Jeffrey into trouble. Better yet, maybe Jeffrey causes an accident that makes someone angry, or hurts someone.
The bottom line is that you can get mileage out of a character’s quirks by turning them into story conflicts. Or if you need plot ideas, you can look at the quirks list for inspiration. Just look for quirks that can be turned into story conflicts. Explain his quirks with back-story. back- story.
This is the flip-side of using quirks to produce story conflicts. This is using back-story to explain a character’s quirks. Doing so gives the reader a reason to believe in his quirks and therefore makes them seem more real. This can make even crazy quirks seem plausible. And the reason why doesn’t have to be elaborate, witty, or original. Even a crummy explanation will help a fantastic quirk seem real. ●
Quirk #102, “Will only eat food he has himself prepared...” Maybe Jeffrey does this because someone he did business with once poisoned him in a attempt to murder him. Quirk asleep in stressful situations.” It just person, happened one daywho when Jeffrey had to#203, go up“Falls against a particularly pitiable or insightful someone says something to him that cut to his heart like he’s never been cut before. But instead of dealing with it, he suppressed his feelings. The stress between who he was and what 1001 Character Quirks
he was doing was too much for him to handle, and his brain just shut down. On that day, he became a narcoleptic, and he’s never been able to shake it. ●
Quirk #376, “Lives to role-play.” Maybe Jeffrey tries to escape the way he feels by taking on other personas. He dresses up in full costume and changes his mannerisms to match. This isn’t multiple-personality disorder, because he knows that these personas are not real. He’s just acting. But he takes it so seriously, really gets into the part, because it helps him escape reality.
Giving a reason why is a powerful way to make characters seem real. In a story, simply tell the back-story that explains any quirks the character has. Juxtapose him against his opposite.
Highlight a character’s quirks by juxtaposing him against his opposite. This is particularly useful for comic characters, using the funny man – straight man pattern. That is, put a quirky character in a humorous situation. Then have him meet a serious character, who must wrap his mind around with the quirky one’s situation. But even in non-humorous passages, you can contrast two characters in order to highlight the characteristics of each. Consider: ●
Quirk #285, “Easily frustrated if he doesn’t understand something.” If Jeffrey becomes frustrated, put him in a class with someone who asks to be challenged. While this other student is pushing confusion to the limit, Jeffrey’s brain will be ready to blow up. Combine that with Jeffrey’s penchant to look out for others’ feelings before his own, and you have a potentially explosive situation. Quirk #527, “Can quote from every episode of The Simpsons, but doesn’t know what Citizen Kane is about.” Have him meet someone of whom the opposite could be said, someone who loves classic film but is ignorant of popular television. There are a number of ways you could run with this. If it’s drama you want, have the two of them conflict with each other, because their points of view are so different. If it’s humor you want, try having them talk past each other and misunderstand each other. Quirk #721, “Always prattles on and on, but never reveals his secrets.” If Jeffrey prattles on, it’s because he has an inner secret he himself doesn’t even want to face. Now have him face someone who always cuts through all the prattle and strikes right to the heart of the matter.
Mixing opposites produces ready-made conflict. This can be the basis for drama or comedy. This not only enhances character, by drawing attention to it, but also enhances a character’s story. And because this technique produces conflict, you can use it to generate story ideas. Have him face someone who doesn’t get his quirk.
This is similar to juxtaposing him against his opposite, but in this case, he faces someone who misunderstands or makes light of his quirk. So: ● ●
Quirk #111, “Always takes criticism... personally.” Now have him meet a critical person. Quirk #468, “Afraid of poverty...” Have him try to explain why he doesn’t take financial risks, even with money he can afford to lose. But the character he explains this to thinks he sounds paranoid. Quirk #729, “Excellent eyesight; can read in low light; can see long distances.” So he reads something in the dark, and his compatriot doubts him, thinks he’s making it up.
And like juxtaposing opposites, this technique can also be used for story ideas. Enhancing Character with Quirks
Put him in a situation where his quirk doesn’t fit.
Put your character in a situation where he is asked or required to do something he normally wouldn’t. This is also similar to juxtaposing him against his opposite, but in this case, we’re juxtaposing him against an incompatible situation. It can also be used to dramatic or humorous effect. For example: ●
Quirk #125, “Refuses to begin eating until someone else takes a bite first.” Maybe he sits down to eat with someone who has the same quirk as he. But neither person wants to admit that he has the quirk. So who takes the first bite? Quirk #313, “Forbids children from playing with rope...” But what if they’re not his kids? And what if the child’s parents are right there, supervising? Quirk #951, “Always venting about something that’s bothering him.” But sometimes, no one wants to hear you vent. This quirk could introduce pressure into a friendship, or it could threaten to keep an important relationship from forming.
Like mixing opposites, this produces ready-made conflict. And you can also use this technique to generate story ideas. Have him respond to a dramatic situation.
This is the converse of the above. Rather than producing drama from a character’s conflict with his environment, let him respond to a dramatic conflict with a quirk. If you know what dramatic conflict he faces, you can look at the list of quirks for ideas of how he might respond to the situation. Or alternatively, you can generate story ideas by asking what conflict might cause a character to acquire that quirk. Here are some examples: ●
Quirk #279, “Always talks down to others.” Jeffrey does not talk down to others, because he knows this would hurt their feelings. But if someone tries to dig into his inner secret, if someone presses him on it, maybe he gets all high and mighty as a defensive mechanism. Quirk #575, “Stress always causes him health problems.” Jeffrey lives with stress. It’s part of the life he’s made. But he’s always kept it submerged under the surface. Maybe when this conflict comes to a head, it starts to cause him health problems. Quirk #840, “Showers twice a day.” No, Jeffrey doesn’t usually shower twice a day. (Although in some hot and humid areas of the world, people do shower twice a day.) But maybe he does so when he feels dirty, and maybe he feels dirty when his job starts to get to him. Instead of dealing with the real issue, though, he acts out by showering in the afternoon.
The common strain here is to have a character do something he normally doesn’t, to demonstrate that something is different. Either something with the person he’s talking to, or something with the situation. A classic example of this pattern is the headstrong woman who gives in to the man she loves. People respond differently in different do different people, situations, and environments. So some quirks will only apply to certain situations. Add quirks just for fun!
Sometimes it's worth just adding quirks, with no better reason than that it's fun. Or more accurately, to try them on for size. With most characters, you want to be careful how many and what quirks you add, because you don’t want to make them inconsistent. But going down the list of quirks can spark character ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. 10
1001 Character Quirks
And sometimes it’s worth adding quirks just to flesh out a character and make him more more interesting. The most common example of this is giving a character a name and physical description. Yes, I consider a character’s name and physical characteristics to be quirks. They’re usually not what give him character, but they do enhance his character. So his name might show his character by demonstrating his ethnic heritage. Or there might be an interesting back-story behind that scar he has across his cheek. Many times, we add physical description just to make the character more interesting. We give him sex, height, weight, and hair and eye color so that we can visualize him. These aren’t character, but they do make the character memorable. This is most important to remember whentoit name comestheir to character names. Some writers too many brain cells agonizing over what characters. Here’s the gist of it:waste We far give our character a name so we know what to call him. Most of the time, that’s it. It’s like the hostage negotiator talking with the criminal. “What should I call you? It doesn’t have to be your real name, but I have to be able to call c all you something .” .” Beyond being able to call him something, it really doesn’t matter much what you name your character. Because if he has character, that’s what defines him. Or to put it another way, if the wrong name will sully your character, he must not have had any to start with. We don’t associate the character with the name. Rather, we associate the name with the character. So just head on over to http://www.BabyNames.com/, g et on with http://www.BabyNames.com/, pick a name that you like—any name will do—and get the job of giving your character life.
Coming up With Your Your Own Charact Character er Quirks This book contains a selection of 1001 character quirks from my own character journal. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll want to develop your own ideas for your own characters and your own stories. There are numerous creativity techniques you can use to build your own list of character quirks. These same techniques can be adapted to come up with story ideas and other creative problems you may encounter. Keep a character journal.
Keeping an idea journal is a key technique for capturing ideas. As you live, watch TV, read books... and especially while you’re quietly thinking about your latest story, ideas will just pop into your mind. And if you don’t write them down, you’ll lose them. Even while your sleeping, your brain is subconsciously thinking, and a great idea may literally come to you in a dream. (Just make sure you filter it through the cogency of daylight.) I keep separate journals for character ideas and for story ideas. Then when I’m writing a story, if I get stuck, I can browse my journals for ideas. My character journal was the inspiration for this book, and it is the inspiration for many stories and characters. Furthermore, the other creativity techniques here build on this one, because no matter where you get your ideas, you’ll want to write them down so you can refer back to them later. Observe real life.
This is the advice everyone gives, which makes it a cliché. But it’s a cliché for a reason: because it’s good advice. Numerous great gr eat quirks come from real quirks that real people have. I know one woman who seems to babble on incessantly about every inane subject in the universe. But it just seems that way to me, because I like to express myself in concise, factual statements, and out of all those words she uses, maybe 5% of them are actually useful to me. I also think the most beautiful part of a woman is her eyebrows. I know someone so quiet, I think he’s ignoring me half the time. And I know one sweet little girl with such a vivid imagination, she names and befriends inanimate objects, like the stuffed animals in her bed and the raindrops running down a windowpane. I actually used this quirk in one my adult characters. Coming up With Your Own Character Quirks
Ask what would make things more interesting for your character.
What traits would make things more difficult for your character in his quest? Or which ones would rub up against other characters in the story, creating secondary conflicts and a deeper story? This is all just good storytelling, of course. But Bu t it also demonstrates the iterative nature of the writing process. You don’t define your character and then just write a story with him in it. Rather, as you write your story, you’ll discover new things about your character, which will then become part of his character description. And those new characteristics will spark even more story ideas. Have your character do something you wouldn’t expect.
If your character is an outgoing person, pers on, have him engage in times of quiet thought. If he is usually stubborn and argumentative, have him acquiesce in certain situations or with a certain person. If he is a fact-and-figures person, have him get sentimental about something. These quirks can be especially good ways to show that a character is affected by something. They can also generate intrigue or conflict. For example, let the character usually be very open with his significant other. Then one day, he doesn’t want to talk about what he did for lunch. He hems and haws and is obviously lying about his story. His S.O. naturally suspects he’s cheating on her. (Who wouldn’t?) But it turns out to be that he’s actually on a diet, didn’t eat lunch at all, and is ashamed of it. That’s a quirk. Use the opposite of what you would do.
As writers, we tend to make our characters the same as ourselves. So try making your characters more quirky by just making them different from you. Think of what you would do, and have your character do the opposite. For example, I love science-fiction, but I hate gimmicky sci-fi, because the most important part of the story to me is the story line. I don’t care for aliens or high-tech devices, except as they actually affect the plot. And I can’t imagine anyone else feeling any differently. So I could c ould create a fictional character who loves high-tech high- tech sci-fi gimmicks as deeply as I love a rich r ich story line. For him, it doesn’t matter how weak the plot or characters are, as long as there are plenty of high-tech gadgets and kewl characters characters with purple skin. That’s a quirk if ever I did see one. Pull superstitions out the archives... or just invent them.
One of the gems on my bookshelf is The Encyclopedia of Superstitions , by Christina Hole, originally by Edwin and Mona A. down Radford. to the book’s acknowledgments, Radfords spent 4 years tracking andAccording researching every English superstition theythe could find. Then Christina Hole continued their work and expanded expand ed on it. I don’t remember exactly where or when I picked up this book. I do remember thinking it would be a good source of character and story ideas, and I was right. For example, just opening it at random, I see that the golden plover (a type of bird) is considered in Cheshire, England to be a friendly bird that warns sheep of danger with its call. But in North Wales, if you hear the call of the golden plover, that’s an omen of death. Either of those superstitions would make a great quirk, using whatever bird is appropriate to the story’s setting. Now consider that there are hundreds of cultures with thousands of superstitions. (And numerous books describing these.) Or you can make up your own superstitions for your character. So if your character afraid beingquarter, poor, have himthe saysidewalk, a short, well rehearsed of thanks every time heisfinds a of nickel, etc. on believing that if prayer he is thankful for finding money, it will bring more money to him. Or if he feels lonely and longs to find love, let him avoid romance movies, because he doesn’t want to jinx it. 12
1001 Character Quirks
Get to know people who are different than you.
The world is made of all types of people. What you consider strange or offensive, someone else may consider normal. We usually don’t think about this, because each of us tends to believe he’s like everyone else. This attitude seems to be hard-wired into our brains. So even though I consciously know that others are different from me, I still tend to reflect my own attitudes and values onto them. But realizing this and learning about how other people’s minds work is a wonderful source of character quirks. I once worked with a guy who always seemed to ignore me, except when he was criticizing me in public. I was convinced he was out to get me. But then I finally figured out what was actually going on. He needed to see something to believe it; I need to understand the theory. He treated work commitments as absolutes; I treated them as estimates that could be revised when the situation changed. He needed to think out a problem in all it’s intricate steps before he could talk about it; I prefer to grasp the main points and then quickly take the next action step. These are all quirks. Note that they are also potential story conflicts. Because of our differences, I had thought he was out to get me (which he wasn’t). And because of the way I approached my job, I seemed flaky and flighty to him (which I wasn’t). This extends to other cultures. There are hundreds of cultures in the world, and each of them has its little quirks and traditions. Here in the U.S., the thumbs-up sign means “excellent” or “congratulations.” But many places in the world, it is a dire insult, which will make you hated or even put you in danger of violence. One story I wrote had a family of characters who moved to the U.S. from Pakistan. One thing that was unique about them was their family name.last Thename mother and father’s first name as their last name, whereas the father’s was hischildren father’stook first the name. Because that’s the Islamic naming convention, and this fictional family maintained it, even after moving to the U.S. So the wife and kids had a different last name than the man of the house. While his name was Hashim Osama, his wife’s name was Fatima Hashim. Ask Google, Yahoo, Technorati, Technorati, or another search engine.
If the character works in a loathsome job, search for “bad jobs” or “job horror stories” or something like that. For Jeffrey’s character, I asked Google about “repossession,” and it yielded a better career for him that I was able to think of on my own. This works, because people share their true stories via the Internet, and these stories are great inspiration. Now, you never want to copy someone else’s story without their permission. But you do want to use what you see around you as inspiration for your own original stories. Ask yourself how people got where they are.
When you’re watching the news, shopping at the supermarket, or just sitting on a park bench, observe other people. Ask yourself what events or characteristics might have caused them to end up as they are. One day, I was listening to the news on the radio. It told the story of a woman who drove across state in order to rob a bank at gunpoint (stupidly and unsuccessfully). Why would anyone do that? Maybe she wanted to be noticed. Or maybe she needed to do something meaningful, even if also destructive. Or maybe she just couldn’t tell Bonnie and Clyde from Stupid Bank Robbery 101. I wrote a short character sketch (“Abigail White”) inspired on this news report. Throw two away.
Don’t take the first character idea that comes to mind, or the second. If you work in threes, you’ll get three ideas for the price of one. This is particularly useful for generating great ideas. ideas. If you come up with three good ideas, then you can pick the best of the three and throw away the other two good ideas. Usually, the first idea I come up with is not the one I end up using. Coming up With Your Own Character Quirks
And sometimes, the right idea comes to me only after after I’m half-way through writing the story. Look at Jeffrey, the fictional character we’ve been using as an example. My first idea was to make him a repo man. But the only reason he’d be in a job like that was to be successful, and when was the last time you heard of a “successful” repo man? So I made him a bank executive instead. He hired the repo man. That worked for a while. I got several manuscript pages into the story, and then I needed to look up a detail about repossession. So I asked Google, read some stuff, and ran across a piece of advice written by the owner of a small dealership that self-finances many of its sales. That means the owner himself has to repossess some of the cars he finances. That’s it! I I thought. That’s the perfect job for my character. It had an aspect of success, as well as a hands-on aspect that was perfect for my story. So I changed Jeffrey’s career once again. Be well rested.
Don’t treat your brain like a drill press, just punching out holes all day long, each new hole exactly the same as the last. Because it’s not a drill press; it’s a creative machine. It doesn’t just churn out words all day long; it churns out the right words. And for your creative machine to work well, it needs to be fully rested. The more you push yourself, the more tired you get, and the worse you will perform. Now, it is important to write. Never make excuses for not writing. In fact, sometimes you just have to sit down in front of a blank page and just start typing, “Blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah. Blah blah!” until the right words come to you. (I’m serious. That’s a way to get rid of writer’s block that really works.) But by the same token, don’t assume that if you work an extra hour, you can just get that last chapter done, or churn out another thousand words, or whatever. Because your brain just doesn’t work that way. Work hard, but at a sustainable pace. And this is especially important if you need ideas. Back when I was developing software full-time, I became very excited about a certain project I was working on. I was so passionate and energized, I spent 10 days doing nothing else. I ignored my email. I took work home weekends. I ignored my family. After those 10 days, I was exhausted, but satisfied. I had reached my goal. My software worked beautifully. It was a work of art. I beamed with pride. And I was ready to take it easy, to come in late, late, leave early, goof off a little, take a creative break. That’s when hell boiled over. They needed me urgently on another project, to solve a problem that was costing the company money every day until it was solved. I remember one of the other engineers telling me what he needed, saying, “Why can’t you just do this?” I tried to tell him exactly why it wouldn’t work. IBut was Iso mentally put together a simple English sentence. toldI him was leavingexhausted, and I wouldI couldn’t be back even the following day. I slept well that night, and the next morning, I woke up with the answer to the problem. I was so obvious, I was amazed that no one had seen it before. I went in to work, and within a half hour, I had the solution completely finished. Your brain is not a drill press. If you push it hard enough, it will not keep drilling holes. It will deteriorate, until all you’re doing is churning out pages and pages of garbage. That’s because you need sleep for creativity. Get quiet.
Inspiration is a tiny, soft voice inside your mind. And when it speaks, you have to strain to hear it. This is not just a metaphor. It’s how the brain works. ‘Aha!’ moments (that’s a technical term)
1001 Character Quirks
occur with an anomalous surge of electricity in the right temporal lobe of the brain. 1 But if you aren’t ready for this burst of creative insight, you’ll miss it. So get quiet to spur creativity, especially when you’re facing what I call a “hard block” in your writing. This is more than just writer’s block, which is not being able to start. This is when I need to know what happened to the son of the secondary character, because it’s part of her back-story. I don’t need a full character description. I just need the perfect hook, the right quirk, for one tiny part of the story. At some point, inspiration will peek in, like like a small, timid, little boy with an idea. But if there’s too much distraction, you won’t notice him. So turn off the TV and the radio. Go for a quiet walk by the river. Or get away from all interruptions, close your eyes, and let your mind run free.
How to Multiply Character Quirks While you consider how each quirk fits in (or not) to your character, here are some variations you can also try, to spark even more ideas. For each of these, I’ll give an example, starting with quirk #465, “Always feels lonely, isolated, out of place, etc., no matter how many people are with him.” ●
Use the opposite. “Always feels companionship, no matter how few people people are with
Negate one word or phrase, especially always or never . “Never feels lonely, isolated,
out of place, etc., no matter how many people are with him.” ●
Hide the trait, displaying the opposite. “Always looks happy and engaged, but actually feels lonely, isolated, out of place, etc., no matter how many people are with
Take it to the N’th degree. “Always feels like he’s the only person on the planet, even though he’s with close friends .” Associate a quirk with only one situation , such as under stress. In an extreme
situation, a character may take on negative quirks or traits and still garner sympathy. “When he’s facing a deadline he thinks he can’t meet, feels lonely, isolated, out of place, etc., no matter how many people are with him.” ●
With a list, choose only one , or invert the sense of one or more, or substitute your
own item into the list. Usually, you’ll want to pick just one item from a list, or substitute your own variation. “Always feels lonely, like everyone else, no matter how many people ●
are with him.” Make a list, by substituting one trait or action for another. “Always feels lonely, isolated, out of place, etc., no matter how many of his beloved pets are with him.” Combine two quirks, or mix-and-match parts of different quirks. Or have two quirks always appear together in the same situation. “ Consistently misuses common words [quirk #47], when he feels lonely, isolated, out of place, etc.”
Describing the Character and Writing the Story Let’s bring this all together. I started with a psychological profile of Jeffrey. Then I talked about a bunch of possible traits I could give him. Here’s an abbreviated wrap up of the fictional Jeffrey character. Note that I’ve made several additions and changes from what I talked about above. Some of these changes I made after I I started working on the story, because as I did more research and http://men.webmd.com/news/20040413/scientists-explain-aha-moments and and 1. See See http://men.webmd.com/news/20040413/scientists-explain-aha-moments http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-04/afps-aft040506.php. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-04/afps-aft040506.php . Describing the Character and Writing the Story
as the plot developed, I discovered twists that I thought would work wor k better than what I had originally written down. Jeffrey is outgoing and values others’ feelings. That is, he values others’ feelings deep down, as part of his personality. But he denies that part of his personality, because he says feelings are stupid. So he looks down on and suppresses his own feelings and values, because he wants to believe they are valueless. So he pretends to be someone he’s not. And it makes him miserable. He thinks he needs riches, but he actually needs to accept himself for who he actually is, in order to be happy. Ironically, although Jeffrey says that feelings are stupid, he always seems to end up putting feelings and values first. He cares a little too much what other people think of him, and he always takes criticism personally (quirk #111), even though he never lets on that it matters to him. And even though he says it’s a dog-eat-dog world, that he’s going to be a winner, that being on top and making a buck comes first, he always ends up putting others first. (Quirk #295) He does things that are asked of him. He gives into people, because he feels sorry for them... or because they insist. (Quirk #791) Jeffrey never believed he was good enough, even though he was. (Quirk #581) Then, years ago, he fell in love with a young, opinionated, headstrong woman. She had much different values than Jeffrey did, and she belittled Jeffrey for his values. But he still loved her, because he couldn’t help it. Actually, he let her get her grind him down. (Quirk #587) After a year of this, she finally dumped him in a painful, pitiful display. But Jeffrey knew in his heart, or so he said, that she was right to dump him, because he still had a long way to go to be cruel and heartless enough to be a winner. (This was before The Power of Nice, not that it would have mattered.) So Jeffrey’s job, which he got during that year with that woman, is part of his quest to make himself miserable. He hates his job, which means—in his mind—it’s good for him. (Quirk #560) Her belittling words continue to ring in his memory, now several lonely years since she left. If we could see into Jeffrey’s psyche, we would see that he’s simply afraid of getting hurt again, like she hurt him. He rearranged his very personality for her, because he believed she was better than he. And she dumped him. That hurt him deeply. But if he were a winner, or so he thinks, he would have just taken it in stride. This is also why Jeffrey does not n ot date well. He dates for sex, but nothing else. In fact, he won’t even take a woman out unless he first knows there are privileges involved. (Quirk #494) It’s a shallow existence. Additionally, he believes everyone else wants to be on top and to make a buck, and that everyone else is willing to sell out for these. (Quirk #545) He can’t fathom anyone behaving any differently, because he believes this is the only way to be happy and that there is something wrong with him for wanting anything else. Whenever anyone starts to poke at his psyche, he deploys distractions and defenses. He prattles on and on about trivial matters, in order to avoid addressing the real issue. (Quirk #535) He will harp on anything he can think of. But he’ll never just walk out on the person who’s poking at his psyche, because that would be rude. (Quirk #639) Now he meets a frail widow from whom he must repossess a car. (He owns a small dealership and self-finances some deals.2) The widow’s son bought it for her. Then he was fired from his job. There’s something about the the little, old widow that brings out his best qualities. Maybe it’s that she refuses to be derailed by his prattle, even after he stops prattling and starts outright belittling her. Or maybe it’s that she at peace being the 2. I got this idea by asking Google about “repossession.” 16
1001 Character Quirks
person who Jeffrey used to also be, and he felt so natural being that person. Then he meets her granddaughter, and he wonders what’s so great about his life. He develops an acid-reflux problem. At first, he thinks it’s from the Italian food he had last night. But his acid reflux doesn’t go away, because it’s from the stress of his encounter. (Quirk #575) His thoughts keeps gnawing at him, until he finally goes back to visit the widow. Having a character description (for each of your characters, not just the main character) is only one step in the journey to writing a story. Holly Lisle’s Create a Character Clinic gives gives much guidance on how to turn character into fiction. See http://BeTheStory.com/ccc/ for http://BeTheStory.com/ccc/ for more on the Character Clinic . For now, here’s a quick, 5-step process you can use to write a story, even if you’ve never written a story before: 1. Start with a conflict. Start with whatever is painful, tense, uncomfortable, or mysterious. An engaging story starts with a compelling conflict, then lets it get worse. 2. Tell a fairy tale. Try building your story on the structure of a similar fairy tale or other story. For example, tell Cinderella as a salesman (Cinderella) who faces his overbearing boss (wicked stepmother) and condescending coworkers (evil stepsisters), and must make the sale (meet the prince) that will skyrocket his career. 3. Start with a bang. The purpose of the first sentence is to make the reader want to read the second sentence. The purpose of the first paragraph is to make the reader want to continue to the next. 4. Show; don’t tell. A character description describes what kind of person your character is. But your story must demonstrate what kind of person he is. 5. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Use simple, direct language and meaningful verbs and nouns. Let these be the foundation of your writing. Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly. Note that Jeffrey’s character description is not enough for a novel-length story, because there are many other aspects to his character we need to explore. But it’s enough for a short story. Following is a snippet from that short story.
Describing the Character and Writing the Story
The Widow’s Granddaughter
She was just another job to Jeffrey Tanner, just another loan someone defaulted on, just another automobile someone couldn’t afford to pay for, until u ntil she limped into his office. She was not someone you would expect to make a difference in anyone’s life. She was neither rich nor powerful. She was not vivacious, not young, not beautiful. She was neither a mover nor a shaker. She hobbled along, a quad cane in one hand, dragging her withered frame behind her, arthritis-infested joints creaking with each lumbering step. She reeked of old perfume; a small, black toque sat atop her thinning, black hair, probably dyed; and when she opened her mouth, from her shriveled face screeched a voice like that of the Wicked Witch of the West. “I’m Mrs. Mildred Kramer.” Jeffrey knew the name. He had handled the account personally. For a fleeting moment, he thought of offering her a seat. But then he thought the better of it. Instead, he said, “What can I do for you, Mrs. Kramer?” “I’m here to talk about my car.” “Well, what sort of car were you interested in?” Instead of answering, she staggered to his guest chair and collapsed into it. “My son bought it here, and you handled the loan,” she said. “Well, I don’t know,” Jeffrey answered. “Let me look it up.” He punched some keys on his computer keyboard. “Awful nice weather we’re having, isn’t it?” he asked. She eyed him carefully. “I believe we had weather like this in 1982,” she said with an air of authority mixed with sarcasm, a haughty tone that clashed with the reedy quality of her voice. “Could be. That’s before my time,” he replied. It wasn’t, but he pretended he didn’t get the joke. He had found the right account on the computer, even though he didn’t need to look it up, and now he was tapping sporadically on the shift key and staring at the screen as though it were doing something useful. “I do remember weather not too different from this in ’96, though,” he said. “That was also the year of the blizzard.” “Fascinating,” she said. “But I want to ask you—” “Here’s the thing, Mrs. Kramer. That account is in default. Unless you remit payment immediately, we’ll need to call the repo man.” She was unfazed. “That’s what I’m here to talk to you about, Sir.” “I don’t see what there is to talk about, Mrs. Kramer. If you can’t come up with the money, we need the car back. There’s nothing more I can do. My hands are tied.” Mrs. Kramer looked confused. “I’m sorry. I thought you were the owner here.” 18
1001 Character Quirks
“I am, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything I can do.” He rose to see her out of the office, but she remained seated. From across his cluttered, oaken desk, she stared up at him with puppy-dog-brown eyes, grasping her cane for support. She said, “Maybe I was wrong about you.” Jeffrey walked around the desk, toward the door, but she still didn’t move to stand. She just kept staring at him, as though he were a circus attraction, Jeffrey Jeffrey imagined. See the Skunk-Man, the face of a man, the heart of a skunk. Or would that be an insult to the skunk?
Jeffrey pulled over another chair, near to where Mrs. Kramer was sitting, and rested his foot on it. Then he leaned forward, supporting his body weight on his knee, towering over the old woman. She continued in that same worn, creaky voice, but with the same air of confidence and authority. “In my years—and I’ve had more of them than you might think—I’ve known many people, Mr. Tanner, of all shapes and sizes, and all types. Some were as hard-nosed as a drill sergeant and stubborn as a mule, because that’s what they believed in. But the rest didn’t believe that, not deep down where it counts. They believed in people.” Now she leaned forward, as much as her ailing body would allow, and got as close as she could to his face. Her eyes narrowed. “But I never met anyone who got the way you are, unless something awful drove him to it.” Read the entire story at http://www.JTimothyKing.com/ http://www.JTimothyKing.com/..
Describing the Character and Writing the Story
The Quirks 1. Constructs an elaborate plan before taking even the simplest action. 2. Follows through on plans, even poorly conceived ones. 3. Will say “yes” to anything anyone asks. 4. Tells the plain truth, even when it causes conflict. 5. Reduces every choice to a law or tradition, everything “by the book.” 6. Pushes himself to exhaustion with commitments he’s piled on himself. 7. Organizes everything that happens into a list of natural “laws.” 8. Denies any fact that does not fit into his theory of how things work. 9. Instantly concocts a correct solution to any problem within his expertise. 10. Recalls every fact within his expertise, like a human encyclopedia. 11. Relays the same information numerous times. 12. Cannot remember names (or faces, or situations, etc.), or constantly associates the wrong person with the wrong name, face, situation, etc. 13. Always tells everyone else what to do. 14. Will do anything if it benefits a friend. 15. Instantly knows what others feel. 16. Intuitively knows about facts, events, situations, etc. of which others are unaware. 17. Will do nothing that can’t be done perfectly. 18. Associates every object, experience, etc. with a cherished memory. 19. Intensely saddened whenever any possession, friend, etc. is lost. 20. Shuts out everyone except one or two close friends. 21. Takes every gift, favor, etc. for granted. 22. Expresses affection and emotion freely. 23. Gives credit for every effort. 24. Disorganized (but always knows where everything is). 25. Lazy (but always seems to get things done). 26. Connected with influential people. 27. Appreciates art, aesthetics, feng shui, form after function, etc. 28. Knows his own limits, skills, abilities, etc. 29. Always sees only what can go right. rig ht. 30. Always behaves calmly and rationally. 31. Turns every chat into a long discussion. 32. Makes every subject about himself (or about someone else). 33. Must schedule everything. (Never spontaneous.) 34. Never goes anywhere without a cell phone, blackberry, book, magazine, sewing kit, $20 bill, etc. 35. Always hides cash in his sock, shorts, bra, etc. 36. Utters a catch phrase whenever he encounters a certain song, blue car, tall woman, etc. 20
1001 Character Quirks
37. Is always typing on his laptop, texting on his blackberry, talking on the phone, drinking beer or coffee, smoking a cigarette, humming to himself, whistling, smiling, etc. 38. Freaks out (or becomes catatonic) whenever he sees, hears, feels, etc. a certain thing. 39. Always seems to do the wrong thing. 40. Becomes excited at the prospect of watching a movie, skydiving, eating chocolate, playing the stock market, etc. 41. Winks, shakes his head, tugs his ear, etc. whenever he talks, reads, walks, etc. 42. Says “gooble-fooble” (or some other catch phrase) whenever he flubs his lines. 43. Always stops and thinks before he talks, or stops in the middle of talking. 44. Always whispers (or shouts, or mumbles, or stutters, etc.) when he talks. 45. Always chews his food 17 times (or chews with his mouth open, or refuses to talk, etc.) when he eats. 46. Shrieks, walks out, etc. whenever something upsets him (or overjoys him). 47. Consistently and repeatedly misuses a certain word or object. 48. Unwittingly misleads others to believe he’s gay, rich, of a certain ethnicity, of a certain religion, etc. 49. Always worries how loud the conversation is, how a meeting will look, whether others will think he’s a racist, etc. 50. Can always be found at a given restaurant, bar stool, park bench, etc. 51. Associates certain articles of clothing (or some s ome other affectation) with the particular mood he’s in. 52. Associates a song on the radio with a given smell. 53. To avoid facing unpleasant reality, works, or talks, or runs, etc. 54. Talks, moves, walks, etc. quickly (or slowly). 55. Refers to, quotes, does impressions of, etc. popular TV shows, movies, music, etc. 56. Makes fun of other characters’ quirks. 57. Gets mean, silly, quiet, etc. when he gets scared, angry, hurt, excited, etc. 58. Has fear of flying, hospitals, cats, elevators, skyscrapers, etc. 59. Always breaks things, trips over things, etc. 60. Gets depressed, moody, giddy, etc. inexplicably. 61. Uses make-believe languages to express joy, disgust, etc. 62. Prefers Latin, Klingon, Morse Code, etc. to English. 63. Feels familial affection for or attraction to cats, horses, cows, etc. 64. Feels familial affection for or attraction to cars, banjos, computers, etc. 65. Sees, hears, smells, etc. things that aren’t there (but later appear). 66. Has a different hair style or color each day, depending on his mood. 67. When he’s sad, happy, angry, etc., he eats, sleeps, etc. 68. Tells jokes when he’s upset, scared, etc. 69. Always comes on to members of the opposite sex (or same sex, or both), even in inappropriate circumstances. The Quirks
70. Always stops mid-sentence to avoid saying something inappropriate. 71. Gossips incessantly. 72. Is a connoisseur of wines, coffees, potato chips, etc. 73. Collects stamps, weapons, cheap novels, condiment packets, etc. 74. Is bipolar, is paranoid, has multiple personalities, etc. 75. Distrusts people who talk with an accent, have blue eyes, can’t remember his name, etc. 76. Sees a double entendre in any sentence. 77. Constantly mispronounces common words, or uses alternative pronunciations. 78. Refuses to explain why he has a certain tattoo, no body hair, no pinky toes, etc. 79. Is very protective of his “me” time; snaps at anyone who disturbs him. 80. Utters a catch phrase whenever he talks about a certain subject. 81. Sings, mumbles, etc. to himself while fighting, bathing, etc. 82. Believes he’s color blind, black, albino, diabetic, ADHD, a woman, etc., even if he’s not. 83. Believes he’s someone else trapped in the wrong body. 84. Refuses to fight with anyone wearing glasses, smaller than himself, etc. 85. Wears glasses, an eye patch, an ace bandage, etc. even though he has no medical reason to. 86. Refuses to bathe, shower, close the door while he’s going to the bathroom, etc., because he believes this leaves him vulnerable to “them.” 87. Is a religious zealot. 88. Performs frequently for friends and family by playing guitar, juggling, etc., but he’s no good at it and doesn’t know it. 89. Believes black cats, Rottweilers, cockroaches, etc. can steal a person’s thoughts when he’s not looking. 90. Insists everyone call him by a different name each day, depending on his mood. 91. Keeps a sample of soil, water, air, etc. from each place he’s visited. 92. Disagrees with anything anybody says. 93. Can’t keep a secret, even his own secret, even when revealing the secret will hurt him personally. 94. Insists he always return via the opposite route, as if he were connected to home with a long string. 95. Loves to play practical jokes, but always does them poorly. 96. Is convinced he has a superhero alter-ego. 97. Stutters, gushes, mumbles, etc. when he meets new people. 98. Worships himself as a god, and insists others do, too. 99. Always offers whoever he’s talking to a drag from his cigarette, sip of his beer, etc. 100. Claims to suffer from temporary insanity, blindness, deafness, etc. 101. Believes the world is flat, Earth is the center of the solar system, etc. 102. Will only eat food he has himself prepared, use his own bathroom, sleep in his own bed, etc. 22
1001 Character Quirks
103. Loves to create art, sculpture, card houses, etc. and then destroys them. 104. Believes that God is a sham created by the clergy to get money. 105. His limp changes from foot to foot, depending on his mood. 106. Always interprets every statement literally (or misinterprets). 107. Makes up new names and words for people and things. 108. Feeling pain makes him happy, amorous, etc. 109. Always works his strange dreams into conversation, no matter how disturbing. 110. Believes his destiny is the hero (or villain) of the world. 111. Always takes criticism, practical jokes, etc. personally. 112. Always calls people by title, job function, description, etc. instead of by name. n ame. 113. Doesn’t understand why the channel numbers on one cable system are different than on another, or why a bottle of soda costs more than a bottle of water, or what’s the difference between different grades of gasoline, etc. 114. Has no sympathy for children or people who cry. 115. Always bragging about past accomplishments, even made-up ones. 116. Hates fighting, knives, guns, etc., even in self-defense. 117. Always writing in a notebook, so he doesn’t forget. 118. Doubts himself, even when he performs well. 119. Has no sense of direction; gets lost going to the bathroom. 120. Washes his hands (or showers) numerous times every day, in order to keep germs at bay. 121. Feels at risk unless he encounters something associated with his lucky number, animal, object, sign, etc. 122. Refuses to use microwaves, cell phones, computers, etc. 123. Constantly training as a fighter, singer, wordsmith, etc., even in open company. 124. Always asks his cat, teddy bear, etc. for a second opinion to whatever anyone says. 125. Refuses to begin eating until someone else takes a bite first. 126. Extremely protective of his car, boat, laptop, etc. 127. Always manipulates people to get what he wants, even if simply asking would do. 128. Can only understand something if it’s explained to him in great detail. 129. Tries to explain everything in great detail, even if unnecessary. 130. Easily swayed by offers of food, money, etc. 131. Always accepts a challenge, even a stupid one. 132. Believes that all members of the opposite sex are perverts out to get him. 133. Names inanimate objects and talks to them. 134. Always refers to himself by name and the pronoun “he.” 135. Refuses to jog; prefers to skip. 136. Believes time does not pass; only what we perceive changes. 137. Overprotective of family members and friends. The Quirks
138. Rude to everyone. 139. Lives in solitude in a darkened room. 140. Has an extremely short attention span. 141. Professes to share equally, but always finds a way to get more than everyone else. 142. Speaks multiple languages fluently, including Russian and Chinese. 143. Professes multiple, incompatible religions. 144. Always fidgets with his hair, ring, watch, necklace, earring, glasses, etc. 145. Always checking the time. 146. Chews his nails. 147. Never takes God’s name in vain, and chews out those who do. 148. Fears he’ll never live up to his parents’ standards (or God’s, or his mentor’s). 149. Loves a special dish from his culture, or some other cultural delicacy. 150. Greets friends with a kiss on the cheek, or some other cultural custom. 151. Abstains from alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, romance, foul language, etc. 152. Never cuts his hair, shaves, buys new clothes, etc. 153. Has a spouse and children in multiple towns. 154. Intrudes into every conversation, conflict, etc. 155. Optimistic, pessimistic, cynical, etc. 156. Addicted to alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, heroin, gambling, eBay, etc. 157. Enjoys seeing houses, cars, trees, etc. explode spectacularly. 158. Plays with fire. 159. Overly sensitive sense of smell, hearing, sight, etc. 160. Picks a fight with anyone who disagrees with him. 161. Volunteers to do manual labor, lick envelopes for a political campaign, distribute leaflets, collect signatures, etc. 162. Throws money around, generously or pompously. 163. Hobnobs with a certain person only in private. 164. Always uses probabilities and percentages, when talking about anything. 165. Giggles whenever anyone uses the word serious. 166. Bickers constantly with his imaginary (or real) friend. 167. Believes his pets are reincarnated relatives. 168. Points with his index fingers whenever he talks. 169. Always afraid of losing face. 170. Narrates his own actions in the third person as he does them. 171. Believes he can read minds. 172. Believes reality is a simulation in a monster computer (like The Matrix )).. 173. Lives with his mother (or father) and works this into every conversation. 174. Always looking for a cure for a disease or condition he has. 175. Always wears really bad make-up. 24
1001 Character Quirks
176. Particularly proud of his ability to sing, deduce, dress, etc. (regardless of whether he’s actually any good at it) and works it into every conversation. 177. Intimidated by police, elders, large men, people in expensive suits, etc. 178. Spends all his money on comforts and cannot live without them. 179. Always involved with a new non-profit organization, or in a new money-making scheme. 180. Always refers to the authorities using the word Munchkins. 181. Always makes it sound like another character is responsible for his problems, mistakes, dementia, etc. 182. Sleeps around. 183. Afraid of commitment in a relationship. 184. Keeps a garden. 185. Always talking about “home,” where he came from. 186. Never carries anything larger than a $20 bill. 187. Guffaws like a madman: “Mwhahahaha!” 188. Shouts “I’m here!” (or something else) when startled. 189. Tries to be expert at everything. 190. Always fiddling with a coin, marble, key, etc. he pulls from his pocket. 191. Refuses to go to anywhere he can’t bring his cat, dog, etc. 192. Bickers with himself (in two different voices). 193. Vegetarian or Vegan. 194. Speaks every errant thought. 195. Always tries to replicate the voice and mannerisms of whoever he’s speaking to. 196. Always worried that he’ll not make his next appointment on time. 197. Unusually short or tall, skinny or fat, etc. 198. Looks and acts like the 80’s never went out of style. (Or 70’s, etc.) 199. Extremely beautiful (or handsome), but has no idea. 200. Instantly falls in love with every woman (or man) he meets. 201. Freely breaks the law and feels justified in doing so. 202. Hates another person (or is insane, etc.) and freely admits it. 203. Falls asleep in stressful situations. 204. Claps with his feet (when his hands are full). 205. Ignores what anyone else tells him; hears whatever he wants to hear. 206. Sleeps on a polyphasic schedule. 207. Looks 10 years younger (or older) than he actually is. 208. Runs into an angry girlfriend (or boyfriend) everywhere he goes. 209. Upset when faced with a messy room. 210. Dresses like the opposite sex. 211. Big and tall with a tiny voice (or the reverse). 212. Always smells new books, mail, people, etc. The Quirks
213. Afraid of both bright and dark, both close and open spaces, etc. 214. Always wants to play Monopoly, Candy Land, poker, etc. 215. Relates everything to an experience from his childhood, a past job he has held, etc. 216. Very good at a skill or talent, but too embarrassed to use it. 217. Tall, but envies those who are short. (Or the reverse.) 218. Always chimes in with useless (usually incorrect) trivia. 219. Afraid of mirrors, cameras, etc. 220. Believes women should never wear pants, only dresses and skirts. 221. Always trying to sell something, with a high-pressure sales pitch. 222. High on charisma, low on content. (Or the reverse.) 223. Never laughs; treats every joke as though it were serious. 224. A minor celebrity, but expects everyone everywhere to know him. 225. Always blames himself for everything. 226. In conversation, uses acronyms like “LOL,” “ROFL,” etc. 227. Believes it’s wrong to hit a woman or anyone smaller than himself. 228. Wears inappropriate clothing because he thinks it makes him look young (whereas it only makes him look like he’s trying to look young). 229. Always refers to himself (or to others) as “The Amazing _____.” 230. Prefers hamburgers, cake, cookies, pie, etc. to romance. (Or the reverse.) 231. Knows more about the characters of his favorite TV show than about the people he associates with every day. 232. Always laughs at the wrong things; offbeat sense of humor. 233. Always early for appointments, because he’s afraid of being late. 234. Never uses a public restroom. 235. Interprets dreams. 236. Always corrects everyone else’s grammar. 237. Refuses to allow shoes to be worn in his house or apartment. 238. Refuses to eat any food that has touched another food item. 239. Always wears the latest fashions. 240. Always sings himself a lullaby before he goes to sleep. 241. Always feels like he’s being bitten by mosquitoes. 242. Always relies on another character to run his life. 243. Likes to smell his own armpits (or someone else’s). 244. Believes World War II (etc.) is still going on. 245. Invoices his lovers. 246. Hypochondriac. (Perhaps with nonexistent diseases.) 247. Believes all sicknesses, injuries, etc. are in the mind. 248. Must control everyone and everything. 249. Works nights as a stripper, escort, etc. 26
1001 Character Quirks
250. Always trying to give people his card, which he carries with him. 251. Beautiful (or handsome), except for a single physical deformity. 252. Always asks inappropriate questions, but out of innocent curiosity. 253. Knows sign language fluently (regardless of whether he’s deaf). 254. Carries batteries (and toys) with him everywhere. 255. Always tries to help out a woman in need (without thinking first). 256. Always teases others about their insecurities (and always knows what they are, too). 257. Always forgets what he was going to do or say next. 258. Keeps an intricate diary describing everything that happens to him. 259. Cannot follow instructions. 260. Has chronic flatulence. 261. Has an unusual number of toes, and will not go barefoot. 262. Whistles whenever he tries to sound the letter s. 263. Cannot see out of one eye, or hear out of one ear, move one hand, etc. 264. Always makes important decisions by flipping a coin. 265. Ponders whether the light goes off in the refrigerator when the door closes, whether the toothpaste should be pushed from the middle or the end of the tube, whether the toilet paper should roll over or under, etc. 266. Carries cookies in his purse. 267. Cowardly, courageous, weaselly, pacifist, warmonger, etc. 268. Can’t read or write. 269. Every time, after saying something that just happens to rhyme, says, “Hey! That rhymes!” 270. Before eating, always pauses to thank his food for giving its life for his sustenance. (Or prays a prayer of thanksgiving.) 271. Makes Batman noises (e.g. Bam! , Pow! , etc.) at an antagonist to express anger, dissatisfaction, etc. 272. Uses a prosthetic limb, eye, hand, etc. 273. Leaches off of anybody he can. 274. Speaks two different languages and accidentally transitions from one into the other. 275. Loves to dance, even when not on a dance floor. 276. Always mixing metaphors. 277. Quitting smoking (or caffeine, etc.), with expected side-effects. 278. Never admits he’s wrong, even if someone proves it to him. 279. Always talks down to others. 280. Drags his feet while walking. 281. Always sits on his hands. 282. Always smells like cigarettes, gin, mothballs, bad breath, etc. 283. Snores loudly. 284. Has 2 differently colored eyes. The Quirks
285. Easily frustrated if he doesn’t understand something. 286. Loves to argue. 287. When eating with others, always finishes first, and then asks someone else if he’s going to finish his food. 288. Personable one-on-one, but awkward in groups. 289. Has a closet full of shoes, dresses, etc. 290. Gets cranky when he’s hungry, dirty, sleepy, etc. 291. Never asks for help; always tries to do everything himself. 292. Wears clothes that are too small (or too big, or spandex, etc.), because he thinks he looks fat otherwise. 293. Will only drink sparkling mineral water. 294. Speaks with one accent one day, a different accent the next day. 295. Claims to be out for himself, but always seems to put others first. 296. Prefers to ride a woman’s bicycle, if a man. (Or vice-versa.) 297. Deathly afraid of going to prison; would rather die first. 298. Lives in poverty, and is basically ignorant of how to manage money. 299. Extremely wealthy, but dresses and behaves like a prole. (Or the reverse.) 300. Always blows cigarette smoke in others’ faces. 301. Always examines, sniffs, and swishes a glass of wine, and keeps a wine log, but doesn’t mean to be a snob. 302. Always checking his nails to make sure they look alright. 303. Always rapping on the table, bar, or counter. 304. Always cracking his joints: fingers, elbows, knees, neck, etc. 305. Knows many facts in his expertise, and always corrects everyone else. 306. Kleptomaniac. 307. Plays solitaire (or some other game), and keeps a log of games played. 308. Cannot feel pain. (Or cannot smell. Etc.) 309. Loves gold chains, and wears a lot of jewelry. 310. Slaps his own face whenever he does (or says) something stupid. 311. Has a name normally associated with the opposite sex, but doesn’t realize the significance of it. 312. Always sucking on a Certs or lollipop, munching on pretzels, etc. 313. Forbids children from playing with rope, for fear they’ll accidentally hang themselves. (Or a similar reaction to another danger.) 314. Loves to kill insects and spiders, but gets upset whenever anyone else does so. 315. Keeps the skull of a dead relative, and always conversing with it. 316. Drinks two raw eggs (or a glass of milk, etc.) every morning. 317. Sleeps only 4 hours a night (and thinks everyone else sleeps too much). 318. Prefers to use 20-year-old computer technology, and gets confused and frustrated with most “new fangled” technology from within the past decade. 28
1001 Character Quirks
319. Always says it’s too hot (or cold). 320. Always correcting others’ fashion choices. 321. Always makes himself at home in another’s house, hous e, store, office, etc. 322. Always takes a day to mull over any decision, no matter how small. 323. Never replies to a greeting or question, unless it relates to what he’s currently thinking about. 324. Always smiles broadly, even while making negative or nasty comments. 325. Has a disability that makes it difficult for him to communicate, but is knowledgeable and intelligent. 326. Knows only enough of a foreign language to fake it, and not very well. 327. Always blends into the background; no one ever notices him. 328. Always pronounces the g and and k in in words like gnome and knob. 329. Relates everything to a fable or allegory. 330. Always says, “I told you so. But does anyone ever listen to me?” 331. Always wants to discuss his regularity (or lack thereof). 332. Suffers from depression every winter, but refuses to be treated for it. 333. Keeps track of everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, signs, etc. 334. Always replies to any email within 24 hours. 335. Believes rights are for pansies (or that rights are inalienable). 336. Always gives alcohol to children. 337. Affixes a sticker to everything he owns: “Property of _____.” 338. Never takes action until he’s explained why. 339. Always complains about the price of everything. 340. Refuses to pay more than he has to, even at great expense of his time. 341. Always telling offensive ethnic or religious jokes, even in the presence of people of those ethnicities or religions. 342. Can read (and write) upside-down. (And in a mirror. Or not.) 343. Never cuts his fingernails or toenails. (Maybe, bites them instead.) 344. Always obsesses about his task, even if it has been rendered pointless. 345. Fears his own shadow; keeps an eye on it. 346. Always behaves with whatever personality will get him what he wants. 347. Nudist. 348. Pyromaniac. 349. Writes fictional stories involving his real friends and family. 350. When he sees something he wants, always asks, “Can I have that?” 351. Always makes up authentic-sounding facts and technical terms. 352. Comforts himself with visions of evil-doers, criminals, politicians, etc. burning in hell for eternity. 353. Always ends up sounding more threatening than he means to. The Quirks
354. Always finds an excuse to kiss every cute woman (or man). 355. Loves playing catch with kittens. 356. Never realizes how ridiculous he sounds, until someone repeats what he says back to him. 357. Never says what he wants; always asks if anyone else wants it. 358. Only buys something if he knows it was manufactured with fair-labor, environmentally friendly, etc. practices. 359. Hates parties, hobnobbing, meeting new people, etc. 360. Always uses foul language, even in the presence of children. 361. Always uses a handkerchief to touch a public telephone, chair, etc. 362. Uses the feeling in parts of his body to divine the weather. 363. Expresses disagreement by appending the epithet “my foot!” to any statement. (Or “my butt!” Or “my pants!” Etc.) 364. Rambles when nervous. 365. Drives like a maniac. 366. Sure every word he says could come back to bite him. 367. Hates one of his friends, but never says anything about it. 368. Always trying to make up for past wrongs he has done. 369. Always writes in 1337-5p34k (leet-speak). 370. Always trying to bet on everything. 371. Makes arbitrary statements, out of context. 372. Always air-drums to music. (Or air-guitar, etc.) 373. Always responds to any request, “What’s in it for me?” 374. Becomes immediately over-attached to new friends. 375. Loves to make fun of other people’s misfortune. 376. Lives to role-play. 377. Has a tattoo of a religious symbol, ex-lover’s name, secret symbol, etc. 378. Has had numerous ex-spouses, which he discusses at every opportunity. 379. Gets a rush from bullying other people. 380. Sheltered, innocent, naive, inexperienced, gullible, etc. 381. Frequently is found staring into space, daydreaming or deep in thought. 382. Can solve a Rubik’s cube in under 30 seconds 383. Has invented numerous inventions. (None of which actually work.) 384. Constructs elaborate toy train setups, domino displays, etc. 385. Reads every newspaper and website; watches every news program. 386. Cannot lie successfully. 387. Frequently draws incorrect conclusions regarding others’ sexuality. 388. Whenever in a fight, works himself into an adrenaline-powered frenzy. 389. Believes in equality (or inequality) of sexes, races, ages, etc. 30
1001 Character Quirks
390. Insists others refer to him using the pronoun “it.” 391. Always refers to himself in the second person (“you”). 392. Does not believe in conspiracies, but always finds a way to explain to his own satisfaction that they exist. 393. Laughs at his own jokes, but at no one else’s. 394. Always names people he meets with a nickname, nickn ame, even if they don’t want one. 395. Keeps repeating the name of whomever he’s talking to in conversation. 396. Ushers whomever he’s talking to around by the hand, arm, etc. 397. Always gets off on a tangent, tirade, etc. 398. Always uses long words, long sentences, obscure forms of words, etc. 399. Frequently attends rave parties, but still manages a real life. 400. Always flushes the toilet at least twice. 401. Afraid to touch others (or be touched by others), even to shake hands. 402. Has a fit whenever he hears Karen Carpenter (or Air Supply, etc.) 403. Believes in pyramid power, mind control, fortune tellers, etc. 404. Snaps fingers in others’ faces to punctuate p unctuate his statements. 405. Eats Buffalo-sauce-and-Blue-cheese burgers, mustard sandwiches, etc. 406. Frequently fantasizes what he would like, believes to be, etc. 407. Always makes a poor but lasting first impression. 408. When asked which star from his favorite TV show or movie he’d like to meet, he answers with the name of the producer, director, creator, writer, etc. 409. Wants to get back at God for what’s happened in his life. 410. Growls, hisses, spits, etc. at antagonists. 411. Sees angels, unicorns, ghosts, etc. 412. Frequently says the wrong word, makes Freudian slips, etc. 413. Has a favorite day of the week. (Or can’t tell one day from the next.) 414. Hopelessly in love with one woman (or man), or one type of woman. 415. Always offends, makes mistakes, etc. and expects to be forgiven. 416. Offended when anyone points out what he does, what he values, what kind of person he is, how he’s changed, etc. 417. Smiles whenever he gets offended. 418. If his spouse were to say, “I kissed someone else,” his first reaction would be to ask, “What are you going to do?” 419. Hurt whenever anyone doesn’t like him. 420. Hates to sweat, and is turned off by people who sweat profusely. 421. Always plays to win, even against friends. 422. Each birthday, laments how little he’s accomplished with his life. 423. Doesn’t understand why people can’t just say what they mean. 424. Tries to emulate his favorite celebrity or fictional character when he needs courage, charisma, peace of mind, etc. The Quirks
425. Keeps a diary, in the form of letters written to a fictional person. 426. Hums the theme song to Mission Impossible, Batman, The Twilight Zone, etc. at appropriate moments. 427. Always talks in a dry monotone voice, or over-exuberantly. 428. Attracted to a specific feature of the opposite sex not usually considered sexy: eyebrows, knees, toes, thumbs, etc. 429. Very uncomfortable whenever someone stands within 3 feet of him. 430. Enslaved to his passions, which sometimes gets him into trouble. 431. Only wears a tie, shirt, pants, skirt, etc. of a solid color, certain color, certain pattern, etc. 432. Talks as if it were completely acceptable about how he treats women as second-class, makes white lightning, distributes drugs, etc. 433. After hearing a song, immediately can play it on a piano, strum it on a guitar, tap out its rhythm, score it, etc. 434. Can drive at excessive speed, weaving in and out of traffic, without getting in an accident. 435. Always says things that hurts others’ feelings, and doesn’t understand why they get so upset. 436. Cries, screams, yells, etc. uncontrollably whenever he gets upset. 437. Plans and executes elaborate stunts on his bike, motorcycle, boat, etc. 438. Cannot be in a monogamous relationship without cheating. 439. Cannot keep a secret. 440. Only ever drinks Pepsi, Sunny-D, Sunny- D, diet Snapple, etc. 441. Always follows the same schedule, route, etc. 442. Always turns up the TV volume, leaves the room, and leaves the TV on. 443. Always announces when he’s about to go to the bathroom. 444. Always picks his nose, or blows it into his hands, and licks his fingers. 445. Always thinks he knows how someone else feels, but is always wrong. 446. Loves to sing “99 Bottles of Beer,” etc. 447. Loves his son (or daughter) more than anything and anyone else. 448. Always wears bell-bottom pants, baggy sweatshirts, sandals, etc. 449. Uses names of food (or flowers, or toys, etc.) as affectionate nicknames: peanut, lettuce leaf, spaghetti sauce, Pop Tart, etc. 450. Always owns up to his own choices, no matter the consequences. 451. Will not interrupt someone else, even in an emergency. 452. Plays the game, but always just to play, not to win. 453. Loves to watch the game, but never plays. 454. Always knows how to shuffle money around to make ends meet. 455. Always folds the corners of books (or uses a bookmark). 456. Always orders a coffee with cream and no sugar (or whatever). 457. Allergic to cheesecake, milk, eggs, fish, wheat, etc. 32
1001 Character Quirks
458. Says the rain, snow, fog, sun, etc. reminds him of home (or camp, or Christmas), even if his home is not known for that kind of weather. 459. Names and becomes attached to stuffed animals, caterpillars, rocks, raindrops on the window, etc. 460. When wrapped up in his own thoughts, sees and hears nothing else. 461. Takes every question as a criticism (or complement). 462. Never lets his personal problems bleed into his professional life. 463. Always thinking about his own mortality. 464. Never satisfied or happy, no matter how well things are going. 465. Always feels lonely, isolated, out of place, etc., no matter how many people are with him. 466. Breathes heavily, as though he needs oxygen. 467. Always thirsty, tired, hungry, horny, etc.. 468. Afraid of poverty, attack, darkness, being stranded, etc. 469. Always has to be himself, no matter what the cost. 470. Always single-mindedly pursues what he wants, no matter the risk. 471. Uses one experience to explain his current behavior, predicament, etc. 472. Spends all his time working, playing, watching TV, chasing women, etc. 473. Always works very hard, but has no concrete goals. 474. Always starting a new project, but never finishes anything he starts. 475. Chasing a dream, but he can’t tell you what that dream is. 476. Loves, hates, or is indifferent to everyone. (Maybe including himself.) 477. Fights with (or freezes out) everyone. 478. The variety of others’ personalities excites him, frustrates him, bores him, angers him, goes over his head, etc. 479. Always chasing (or fleeing) his ethnic heritage, religious upbring, etc. 480. Has a rock-solid (or nonexistent) sense of right and wrong. 481. Sees visions, which always tell him something true. 482. Gets bored, frustrated, etc. whenever someone asks him something he’s ever previously answered for them. 483. Does nothing just for the joy of it; everything must have a purpose. 484. Always waits for fate; never asks for anything. 485. Never tells anyone plainly what he wants. 486. Never talks about his past (or future). 487. Thinks sex, kissing, etc. is gross. 488. Always wears extremely sexy (or conservative) clothes. 489. Never thinks about right and wrong, only what he can get away with. 490. Becomes jealous whenever he sees a man and woman laughing or smiling together, even if they aren’t dating. 491. Insists on remaining the same, even while everyone else is changing. 492. Dreams about stalking all his favorite TV or movie actresses (or actors). The Quirks
493. Refuses to see the humor in anything; believes life is not funny. 494. Insists on getting the sex question answered before the first date. 495. Sees a hug as the best (or only) way to express affection of any kind. 496. Is excited (or intimidated) by tall (or short) women (or men). 497. Loves to be alone for hours by himself, thinking, reading, working, etc. 498. When something goes wrong, always wants to know who he can sue. 499. When he’s pushed up against the wall, he lashes out and never loses. 500. Loves to see friends fighting with each other. 501. Believes nothing is worth doing unless there’s an element of fun in it. 502. Everything reminds him of a story. 503. Sees skyscrapers as phallic symbols. 504. Loose cannon; easily pushed to assault an antagonist. 505. Secretly does nice (or nasty) things for others. 506. Always uses the ends to justify the means (or vice versa). 507. Always says he worked hard, in order to justify the result of his work. 508. Has a laugh that is contagious, annoying, painful, etc. 509. No matter how funny the joke is, he can’t tell it right. 510. No matter how serious the issue is, he always sounds like he’s trying to make a joke, even though he doesn’t mean to. 511. Behaves nervously, uncertainly, subserviently, etc., but is very competent and can turn any situation to his advantage. 512. Excited, intrigued, turned on, etc. by violence. 513. Babbles rather than face unpleasant news, etc. 514. Feels no sadness, anger, nervousness, etc., but can fake it pretty well. 515. Makes a huge deal out of any gift, no matter how small. 516. Always borrowing things from his friends, and not returning them. 517. Works at home, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. 518. Never goes outside. (Or not during the daytime.) 519. Always wears his long hair under a cap, to protect it from the elements. 520. Always knocks stuff on the floor (accidentally), and doesn’t pick it up. 521. Always wakes up at 2 AM sharp to go to the bathroom. 522. Can write with his feet. (Or play piano. Etc.) 523. Wakes promptly at 6 PM; falls asleep at 10 AM. 524. Has a revolving sleep schedule: Asleep 8 hours, awake 18, repeat. 525. Wants to live in a geodesic dome or other alternative-style house. 526. Reads 5 times faster than the average person. 527. Can quote from every episode of The Simpsons, but doesn’t know what Citizen Kane is about. 528. Refuses to wear makeup, jewelry, etc. 34
1001 Character Quirks
529. Always wears certain shoes with a certain dress, etc. (Even though they don’t go together.) 530. Feels justified if there was no other option to what he did. 531. Respects those who stand up to him, even if it irritates him. 532. Goes by a nickname like Happy, Red, Doc, etc. 533. Can’t stand the taste of raspberries, broccoli, hot dogs, etc. 534. Can’t stand the smell of cigars, garlic, boiled cabbage, etc. 535. Prattles on about trivia when there are significant matters to discuss. 536. Always handles others’ things in their office or home, peeks at mail, etc. 537. Always needs to try what he sees in the movies to see if it works. 538. Lives a nomadic existence, traveling on his motorcycle. 539. Always tells lies and pushes people’s buttons to make a point. 540. Always working on numerous things at a time. 541. Always says that he’s older and wiser and deserves respect. 542. Fears getting sued, audited, arrested, etc. 543. Attracts women by bragging about how he doesn’t want to settle down. 544. Willing to do anything for information (if for a greater purpose). 545. Willing to sell anything, including a human life, for the right price, and can’t imagine that anyone else would be any different. 546. No matter how crazy he is, thinks everyone else is just as crazy as he. 547. Opinionated and proud of it. 548. Steadfastly honest, and uses it to convince others to believe him. 549. Always fights with another character, but the reason is long forgotten. 550. Believes substance doesn’t matter, only how you sell it. 551. Can memorize almost anything in record time. 552. Very observant; always notices the tiniest changes, features, etc. 553. Always waits until the last moment to get something done. 554. Always involved in a problem he’s trying to solve. 555. Whenever he reads a news article, always asks the questions that weren’t answered by it. 556. Goes to work every day at the same time, works quietly in his office, systematically finishes all his work, until quitting time, when he goes home. 557. Always makes choices based on whether it “feels” right. 558. All his ideas would turn to gold, if he implemented them. 559. Could never accept that his close friend has a fatal flaw, even if true. 560. Thinks that if everyone does something, it must be wrong. 561. Lies about his own beliefs in order to fit in. 562. Distrustsoranyone who seems experienced heard about them. to “know” things (i.e., intuits them) without having 563. Has written his own version of The Nitpicker’s Guide to Babylon 5 . The Quirks
564. Can’t swallow pills. 565. Can make up any story as he goes along, and make it seem planned. 566. Describes experiences from long ago in pristine detail. 567. Seems to have a different career every week. 568. Always manipulates people to wrong, but believes he is doing right. 569. Never compromises his ideals, ethics, morals, etc. 570. Can make people do exactly what he wants. 571. Knows and follows standard procedure, but can’t play politics. 572. Never tells people what he wants (even though he’s their manager). 573. Never expresses his feelings about someone else, until they explode. 574. Never leaves a messy house; must clean before he does anything else. 575. Stress always causes him health problems. 576. Always gets upset when he loses, but hates it when others let him win. 577. Will give you the shirt off his back without thinking twice. 578. Always shows profound respect for any nurse (or restaurateur, etc.) 579. Constantly reminisces about all the things he used to do back when he hated his life. 580. Becomes depressed unless given a steady stream of positive feedback. 581. Always right, but always believes he’s not good enough. 582. Avoids all details, except those he plunges himself into thoroughly. 583. Thinks statistics are for people who don’t care. 584. Believes all major news sources are skewed and unethical. 585. Offensive jokes about him personally always roll right off his back. 586. Commonly makes threats against others when he gets angry at them. 587. Always feels belittled by people who do things better than he does, even if they’re polite and even if they’re in a different area of expertise than he. 588. Takes pleasure in wearing down his underlings, even to suicide. 589. Plays by his own rules, and intimidates others into playing by them, too. 590. Loves to knit, drive a truck, or do other highly repetitive activities. 591. Always accepts criticism, even from amateurs, as long as it’s useful. 592. Hates checklists and can’t follow them, even safety checklists. 593. Will apply for any job under the sun. 594. Believes the work and effort he’s put in buys him privilege and respect. 595. Speaks twice as fast as normal in order to cover up his stammer. 596. Always gets angry at the computer and actually punches the screen. 597. His girlfriends (or boyfriends) always break up with him, and he always faces it with calm resolve. 598. Always faces an emergency by taking command of the situation. 599. Wears nice clothes to feel good about himself, even when everyone else is dressing down. 36
1001 Character Quirks
600. Always treats others purely based on what they do, not on any horrors their friends and relatives may have committed, or on any innuendo. 601. Won’t drink coffee, because he can’t work a coffee maker. 602. Always eats an apple a day, no matter what. 603. Has drawn up a list of transgressions and a revenge appropriate for each. 604. Loves to watch The A-Team, but always sides with the villain. 605. Can build almost anything out of wood, even without a blueprint. 606. Has affection for anyone who is different than himself. 607. Always listening to jazz, electronica, R&B, etc. 608. Never has enough time for all he h e needs to do, but always seems to catch the latest episode of his favorite TV show. 609. Always seems to give up, even though he’s more than half-way to succeeding. 610. Swears by his Apple Macintosh. 611. Understands mathematical principles quickly, and applies them. 612. Lapses into his mother tongue whenever he is happy, angry, sad, etc. 613. Always uses “23 seconds” to mean “a short time.” 614. Always uses witty synonyms for everyday words, e.g., “in the AM” instead of “in the morning.” 615. Overly concerned with his grooming, facial hair, makeup, etc. 616. Harps on about what can’t be fixed, but refuses to entertain what can. 617. Always complains about something at a restaurant, hotel, etc., and then always says he doesn’t “want to be a pain, but...” 618. Turned on by any woman’s name (or man’s) with a certain sound in it. 619. Always needs to be told exactly what what to do, or else he can’t figure it out. 620. Plays Monopoly, etc. by himself if no one wants to play with him. 621. Talks about his hemorrhoids, yeast infection, etc. freely to his friends. 622. Never thinks of repaying others for their generosity. 623. Believes Tupperware parties, AA meetings, etc. are actually planning meetings for a secret underground conspiracy. 624. Believes The Andromeda Strain is based on a true story, because b ecause it says so in the intro. (Or that War of the Worlds really happened.) 625. Ashamed of a scar (or other blemish) on his face. 626. Has never gone on vacation in his whole life, and is proud of it. 627. Treats his cat, dog, etc. as a child, honored guest, etc. 628. Always charters private flights, because he’s terrified of the TSA. 629. Very superstitious. 630. Admires Tyler Durden. (Or some other fictional antihero.) 631. Always knocking things, leaving things on the floor. 632. Goes through great lengths to prove that all his ex-employers’ problems after he left were all caused by his not being there anymore. The Quirks
633. Believes nothing until it’s been tested on Mythbusters. 634. Always feels so much better when his spouse babies him. 635. Terrified of doctors, dentists, etc. 636. Refers to any food he doesn’t like by calling it the name of something similar but patently disgusting, e.g., calling rice cakes “urinal cakes.” 637. Refuses to order the calzone, because he doesn’t know whether to pronounce the final e. 638. Always punishes (or rewards) the messenger. 639. Will say what he thinks you want to hear, even if he knows it’s wrong. 640. In any heated argument with his spouse, refuses r efuses to hit below the belt. 641. Cannot pretend inanimate objects have life; can’t play with dolls. 642. Never explains himself; simply answers questions and instructs. 643. Extremely picky eater. (Even if he’s starving.) 644. Watches Toy Story or or Shrek , and only notices the simulated lighting, textures, quality of animation, etc. 645. One day each week, instead of working in the office, takes his laptop and works in the park, coffee shop, etc. 646. Prays for specific things, but never pursues them himself. 647. Pushes his girlfriend on a swing, pinches her, and thinks that’s clever. 648. Sees or hears a word, and puts together a list of all its anagrams. 649. Thinks facial blemishes make others more attractive, sexy, etc. 650. Can sneak a peek at a woman (or man) without anyone noticing. 651. Believes anything that makes sense (to him) from nature is ordained by God. (Or believes the opposite.) 652. Harps on what he calls “fatal story errors” in every movie he sees. 653. Always arguing passionately that no one speaks Latin correctly. 654. Cannot work unless there’s music playing in the background. 655. Always has a sarcastic or sardonic comment ready to show disapproval. 656. Brags about a new game he made up using a see-saw. 657. Ashamed of his epilepsy, cancer, etc. 658. Sees every transaction as a non-zero-sum game, a win-win scenario. 659. If someone stops short and says, “Never mind,” can’t let it go. 660. When accused of catering to plebeian tastes, wonders what’s wrong with plebeian tastes. 661. As has been said of Churchill, thinks that bunkers bu nkers represent cowardice. 662. Always buys the car with the most safety features, or the one that is the biggest, or the one that feels the fastest, etc. 663. Believes he is entitled to anything he wants. 664. “It’ll never make any difference” only strengthens his resolve. 665. Cannot accept that he was told untrue things in elementary school. 666. Still uses an old-fashioned typewriter, even in the computer age. 667. Would turn in his own mother if she were using drugs, etc. 38
1001 Character Quirks
668. Suspicious of anyone who uses the word inspect . (Or some other word.) 669. Thinks he would be worthless, incompetent, etc. without a certain other. 670. Has psoriasis on his scalp, underarms, private areas, etc., and scratches. 671. Needs the world to make sense, with no inconsistencies. 672. Becomes angry, sad, etc. whenever things don’t go the way he expects. 673. His problem with mystery novels: too many people and facts. 674. Fantasizes about cheating on his spouse, but never actually could. 675. When a loved one doesn’t answer the phone, always assumes the worst. 676. Always get overwhelmed and needs to take a moment to clear his head. 677. When someone gives something, even if unwanted, feels a need to reciprocate the favor. 678. Believes everyone else owe him, and always gets them to pay. 679. Not afraid to ask for help, if it gets him closer to his target, especially if that target is the person he’s asking help from. 680. Always folds up an important paper to use as a bookmark. 681. Always does things that don’t make sense, but defends them as though they did. 682. Always rubbing the stress out of his own neck, back, shoulders, etc. 683. Never gives interviews. 684. Always asks for help with his projects, but never gets any. 685. In the face of a shock, reverts to his normal routine for comfort. 686. Always acts nervous when he’s excited and energized. 687. Believes that everyone has a story to tell, and wants to hear them all. 688. Suspicious of any woman (or man) he is attracted to. 689. Loathes to be photographed. 690. Always takes credit for others’ accomplishments. 691. Driving the truck, thinks, That bicyclist won’t risk getting run over. 692. Riding the bicycle, thinks, That truck driver won’t risk hitting a bike. 693. Believes the only way to attract a woman (or man) is to bribe her, blackmail her, etc. 694. Can quote enormous fees for his services, with a straight face. 695. Whenever he knocks on a door, always knocks 7 times, or with a certain rhythm, etc. 696. Always treats everyone with respect, no matter their class or station. 697. Tenacious in pursuing his passion, calling, etc. 698. Has never had an original idea, but is good at stealing them. 699. Goes from angry yelling to happy laughter in 2 seconds. 700. Always says he’ll do such-and-such, but then never does. 701. Always eats breakfast, lunch, or supper at a certain restaurant. 702. Always assumes everyone else is different than he, and is usually right. 703. Thinks that the last good novel, movie, video game, etc. came out 5 years ago. (And the “5 years” stays the same, year after year after year.) 704. Cannot understand allusions, metaphors, etc. The Quirks
705. Always states the obvious as though it were profound. 706. Always throwing another party. (But no one ever comes.) 707. Never reads unless he has h as to, because he hates it, can’t read, on principle, etc. 708. Cannot say the word bully , father , marriage, etc. without stammering. 709. Becomes mired in grief when his favorite fictional character dies. 710. Has never had a best friend. 711. Thinks “Ivana Trump” sounds funny. (Or “Paul Bunyan,” etc.) 712. Always uses alliteration. 713. Looks down on everyone who’s not in the same business as he. 714. Gets crushes on mannequins. 715. Always spreads the peanut butter, etc. evenly to the edge of the bread. 716. Uses the same brush to scrub the dirty dishes and the fresh vegetables. 717. Always complaining about the sponge being left in the sink. 718. Asks for exactly the same thing over and over, even after being told repeatedly that it’s infeasible, impossible, unavailable, etc. 719. Never drinks reheated coffee, because it tastes burnt; if need be, drinks cold coffee instead. 720. Wears glasses that have been taped, glued, or otherwise repaired. 721. Always prattles on and on, but never reveals his secrets. 722. Always forgets which door is the exit and which is the closet. 723. Knows that if he can get alone with someone for an hour or two, he can get anything he wants from him. 724. Agrees quickly (by silence), but later comes to a different conclusion. 725. Ambidextrous. 726. Cares more about enjoying life and doing the right thing than making money. (Or viceversa.) 727. Always passes the old-style eye tests, because he memorizes the chart. 728. Deals regularly with organized crime, with its risks and benefits. 729. Excellent eyesight; can read in low light; can see long distances. 730. Can’t find another synonym for jerk , scum, slug , slime, etc. 731. Has bankrupted 5 businesses, but can’t help but start another. 732. Spends an inordinate amount of time swimming, sunbathing, etc. 733. Sees all art as “whatever you interpret it as,” including family photos. 734. Good manager, setting goals and expectations, motivating, etc. 735. Can look at a woman and instantly tell her dress size. 736. When he thinks he’s being taken, says, “What do I look like, dog food?” 737. Doesn’t care whether he gets beat up, as long as he wins big in the end. 738. Always has a bodyguard nearby. 739. Can’t enjoy a story that has unexplained logical inconsistencies. 40
1001 Character Quirks
740. Thinks any great story can be ruined by a sad ending. 741. Each day for health reasons, drinks a glass of red wine, takes an aspirin, etc. 742. Always groans at puns, bad jokes, etc., but laughs anyway. 743. Practically gives money away, knowing it will come back manyfold. 744. Can build high-tech electronic devices with seemingly magical powers. 745. Loves horses; loves to ride them, groom them, etc. 746. Never knows when something is a secret or not (unless plainly told). 747. Walking through a store, sees something and immediately knows he wants one, but couldn’t tell you why or what makes it so desirable. 748. Always enforces the rules, even if they’re silly or counterproductive, even if he has the power to change them, unilaterally. 749. Always seems to be having accidents (or causing them). 750. Enraged at perceived injustice, frequently out of proportion with the scale of the actual injustice. 751. Will let anything slide for the sake of national security, civil rights, etc. 752. Thinks the kazoo is the most beautiful sound ever. 753. Hates to reveal his personal life or be put under a microscope for any reason; extremely jealous of his privacy. 754. Always piles up junk, dirt, etc., reasoning that he can always clean later. 755. Brilliant strategist; always seems to have planned for any contingency. 756. Will sneak in to visit the woman (or man) of his dreams. 757. Forever looking for the woman (or man) that reminds him of his mother. 758. An expert marksman, swordsman, archer, martial artist, etc. 759. Always pursuing his biggest dreams, with single-minded enthusiasm. 760. Easily deceived by anyone who uses words he doesn’t understand. 761. Frequently makes up statistics to prove his point. 762. Always says “we” rather than “I,” in order to make it sound like someone else (or the person he’s talking to) is in on the plan. 763. Always flunks out, fails, is fired, etc., but it doesn’t affect him. 764. Surrounds himself with expensive things, beautiful women, etc. 765. Always trying to lose weight, watch his diet, reduce his cholesterol, etc. 766. Deathly afraid of dieing by heart attack, because it runs in his family. 767. Has already chosen what he wants his last words to be before he dies. 768. Always tries to one-up everyone around him. 769. Passionately desires to trip anyone who is riding a Segway ®. 770. Believes in aliens, conspiracies, etc., and has dedicated his life to proving that his belief is correct. 771. A self-proclaimed celebrity, hacker, “mighty pirate,” etc. 772. Always thinks he has to trick a woman (or man) to get her to like him. 773. His plans always blow up, and he always tries the same plan again. The Quirks
774. Always finds an excuse not to tell a woman how he feels about her. 775. Likes people (or dislikes them) because of what’s happened to them. 776. Always gives a “thumbs-up” sign, or “okay,” etc. when he’s happy. 777. Always embraces change, conflict, etc. (or tries to stop it). 778. Never talks; but eats his hair, etc.. 779. Never uses pronouns. (Maybe only when writing.) 780. Even when he doesn’t know what wh at he’s doing, tries to look as if he does. (And fails miserably. And then makes believe he was on it all the time.) 781. Under pressure always tries to be clever, or stutters, or gets quiet, etc. 782. Always does, says, etc. everything in a theatrical manner. 783. Always highlights the irony of life. 784. When something mundane pleases him, mentions it repeatedly. 785. No good at what he loves to do, but works tirelessly at it. 786. Can speak just fine, but cannot write a coherent English sentence. 787. Physically unable to sleep in, even when up late or has insomnia. 788. Always tweaks what he’s already completed, to make it better. 789. Always late (or early) for everything. 790. Cries at the drop of a hat. 791. Tries to get along with everyone by always giving in to everyone. 792. Always puts his family, his job, his mistress, etc. first. 793. Looks down on anyone who (he thinks) makes less than he does. 794. Introspective; knows exactly why he thinks and feels what he does. 795. Needs to be the center of attention. 796. Always walks barefoot. 797. At work, cares about the client’s interests above all others. 798. Always thinks every woman (or man) is in love with him. 799. Trips people that make him mad. 800. Sympathizes with many people, because he associates them with his past and he reasons that he’s progressed from where they are. 801. Haunted by a deceased friend, husband, wife, etc. 802. Frequently pauses in the middle of sentences (so others interrupt him, at which point he starts the sentence again from the beginning). 803. Always sees the half-full part of the glass. (Or the half-empty part.) 804. Works a very dangerous job, where accident can mean death. 805. Sees no beauty in grand monuments, like the pyramids, Washington Monument, etc., because they have no practical use. 806. Loves history, archeology, paleontology, etc. 807. Always becomes offended, sad, angry, etc. when his offer is refused (or when h he e can’t persuade someone else to his way of thinking). 808. Always has to get his 2 cents in, even if he doesn’t know the subject. 42
1001 Character Quirks
809. Accomplished illusionist. (But uses this skill only subversively.) 810. About exploiting ancient graves, archaeological sites, etc. for profit, thinks, Why not? 811. Takes great pride in the control he maintains over his temper. 812. Always makes fun by imitating or caricaturing his antagonist. 813. Always associates images of food, hardship, etc. with cooking, hiking, etc., and says so, even when it is inappropriate. 814. Loves (or hates) reality TV, music videos, action films, etc. 815. Always playing a video game (and always of a given genre). 816. Always looks and acts stupid, but is a passionate master persuader. 817. A loner; never partners with anyone else; only transacts at arms-length. 818. Thinks degrees, diplomas, etc. are useless. 819. Always cries, rages, etc. about things he can’t control. 820. Won’t get mad at someone who hurts him, if he knows the other person doesn’t understand what he’s doing that’s hurtful. 821. Doesn’t understand basic astronomy, accounting, etc. 822. Always finds a way to sabotage any business success, long-term relationship, etc. usually when he’s just on the verge. of finding happiness. 823. Always plucking his nose hairs with his fingernails. 824. His online persona is of a different age, sex, etc. 825. Always dresses, behaves, etc. like his favorite celebrity. 826. Looks down on anyone from Iowa, Chicago, California, etc. 827. Respects anyone who attended an ivy-league university. 828. Always complaining that there are no good women out there. 829. Home-schools his children, because he’s afraid of the public schools. 830. Looks down on anyone who doesn’t send his children to boarding school. 831. Can find happiness with any lover. 832. Always learning something new, because otherwise he’d get bored. 833. Believes no one is entitled to an opinion he thinks is wrong. 834. Always looking at what others do, and then does it better. 835. Very open to strange ideas for others, but conservative in his own life. 836. When meeting a new person, immediately comments on the beauty, desirability, etc. of their clothes, car, etc. 837. Always asking a different woman on a date (though often rejected). 838. Each week, visits the grave of a deceased parent, sibling, friend, etc. 839. Demands that everyone follow the rules, no matter how hard for them. 840. Showers twice a day. 841. Wants children, so someone will remember him after he dies. 842. Always stands up to a superior who’s reprimanding him. 843. Always trying to find a way to do his job better. The Quirks
844. An orphan. (And always using the fact to garner sympathy.) 845. Prefers computer sex to the real thing. 846. Keeps saying (or doing) the same thing, even though his friend always kicks him (or pinches him, etc.) when he says it. 847. Always gets upset when someone gets his age (or weight) wrong. (And expects everyone else to drop everything to defend him.) 848. Trusts others (and forgives them) just because they ask him to. 849. Loves to watch B-movies with friends and make fun of them. 850. Thinks it’s fun to be nasty, even if he doesn’t d oesn’t get away with it. 851. Whatever bad happens, blames it on his mother, father, sibling, etc. 852. Loves to wear costume jewelry, tricked out clothing, etc. 853. Gets a headache from loud noises, interruptions, distractions, etc. 854. Never says when he’s upset, but always shuns whoever he’s upset with, gets angry about something insignificant, etc. 855. Always finds an excuse not to go out with friends, but always enjoys himself when he does. 856. Always ditches his friends if something more interesting comes along. 857. Never talks to anyone, because people annoy him. 858. Always flies first class, or doesn’t fly at all. 859. Never feels awkward if he did nothing wrong, w rong, no matter how it looks. 860. Doesn’t feel embarrassed when people see him naked, only if he sees someone else naked. 861. Names his many computers (or pets, etc.) all after characters from a single movie, TV show, novel, etc. 862. When his mother, nemesis, etc. likes something, always decides that’s a good enough reason to hate it. 863. If a woman calls him over to her place on a pretense, doesn’t get it. 864. Furnishes his home with old furniture, expensive furniture, etc. 865. Always tries to be Ward or June Ju ne Cleaver, James Bond, etc. 866. Loves animals, but always manages to kill them, lose them, etc. 867. Raises chickens, pigs, etc. 868. Used to entertain in Vegas, or New York, or in film, etc. 869. Always feels like crying (or screaming, etc.) when he sees someone he’s in love with (but is not dating). 870. Can never decide which of two options he wants to take. 871. Always expects exactly what he wants, though he doesn’t ask for it. 872. Has poor peripheral vision (on his right side). 873. Threatens to have a breakdown if his demands aren’t met. (Even claims his psychologist advised him that he might.) 874. Always uses stupid puns as if they were funny. 875. Always offended that everyone else thinks he’s stupid. 44
1001 Character Quirks
876. Frequently emotional, beyond what the situation deserves. 877. Has a crush on Underdog, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. 878. Suffers from chronic back pain, migraines, etc. 879. Owns his own one-man business. 880. Can’t put his feelings into words. 881. Thinks it’s shameful to write erotic notes to one’s lover. 882. Always gives sincere advice, but rarely is it any good. 883. Can’t stand to do the same thing day after day. 884. Ambitious; always looking for a promotion. 885. Never can find the exact product produc t or tool he’s looking for, because no n o one else has thought of it yet. 886. Obsessed with minor details that don’t affect the big picture. 887. Jealous of his relationship with his bartender, hairdresser, etc. 888. Solves every problem by first ignoring what everyone else thinks the answer is. 889. Always taking a moment to think, interrupting others if necessary. 890. Never cares about others’ feelings, unless they’re logical to him. 891. Always talks in succinct, factual statements, and wants others to as well. 892. Never feels he “knows” a person until he thinks he can identify the person’s personality type. 893. Never trusts anyone who’s not doing things the way he would do them. 894. Can talk his way into or out of anything. 895. Intensely passionate in what he pursues and believes; frequently blowing up or screaming because of this passion. 896. Always gushes accolades (sometimes ( sometimes insincerely), because he wants to be liked. 897. Always searching for a new relationship that feels magical. 898. Hates to be lumped in with the rest of a group; values his uniqueness. 899. Can’t imagine that anyone would actually enjoy having a 9-to-5 job. 900. Never cares who is right or wrong, only that everyone gets along. 901. Very easy-going, until someone challenges what he believes in. 902. When angry, bombards his antagonist with (sometimes wrong) facts. 903. Always speaks awkwardly, but writes eloquently. 904. Will accept almost anything as “normal,” once it is explained to him. 905. Never lies about what he thinks or feels, even to spare others’ feelings. 906. Always feels misunderstood, even though everyone appreciates him. 907. When tired, has trouble putting together a coherent sentence. 908. Neither understands nor communicates with people, and doesn’t care to learn how to understand or communicate with people. 909. Has no personality of his own, but can mimic any personality required. 910. Always brags about his hard, dirty job full of manual labor. The Quirks
911. Always experimenting with a new recipe. 912. Always wants someone to help him, even with the simplest tasks. 913. Laughs at any joke, but not when he’s trying to figure something out. 914. Tired, stressed, etc., if someone suggests he take a break, he shouts, “No! I’m fine!” 915. If someone else brags about something he wants, he’s fine with that. 916. Always flirting with members of the opposite sex (or the same sex). 917. Cannot tell the difference between emotion and value judgments. 918. Yells at anyone he feels is being unfair or isn’t listening to him. 919. Doesn’t think he should be punished for an accident. 920. Always in the outdoors, hiking, biking, boating, etc. 921. Feels justified in hurting anyone who hurts him or those he loves. 922. Can tell immediately how many letters in any word or phrase, or say any word or phrase backwards, etc. 923. Commonly reverses gender roles in relationships. (For example, if a man, enjoys expensive gifts from his rich girlfriend. Or vice-versa.) 924. Never eats or drinks anything brown, red, or purple. 925. Always judges others. (Or giggles but never judges.) 926. Always cares (and easily embarrassed by) what others think. (Or never.) 927. Never sleeps with someone until he knows he loves her. (Or always.) 928. Always forms an emotional attachment to fine cars, collectibles, etc., even if owned by someone else, and feels slighted if the they are mistreated. 929. Carried a can of Lysol disinfectant everywhere, to combat the germs. 930. Never looks a person in the eye, and always talks in a monotone voice. 931. Never reports anyone to the tax collector, child-protection services, drug-enforcement, etc., because he doesn’t trust them to do the right thing. 932. Will do anything you ask him to, and gets upset if you don’t ask. 933. Asks for directions, but too ashamed to admit he can’t understand them. 934. Always prefers to hire someone else, rather than do anything himself. 935. Always talks in run-on sentences. 936. Always embraces compromise, even if he doesn’t get what he wants. 937. Can only love someone who makes him miserable. 938. Knows exactly what he wants in a lover, and asks for it. 939. Feels no pressure to remain consistent; changes his mind and does not apologize for it. 940. Always tries to smooth over conflicts between others. 941. Always refuses to define himself by his career. 942. Even a moving story will not tug at his heart strings, unless he has sufficient reason to believe it’s worth his time. 943. Always has great plans and intentions, but never follows through. 944. Always tries to be nice, and always ends up insulting someone. 945. Has a sharp wit, but never starts a conversation. 46
1001 Character Quirks
946. Always looking for a way to belittle those he doesn’t like. 947. Will stand up for his family, even the black sheep. 948. Always follows proper social procedure. (Or never.) 949. Always expects simple answers to complex questions. 950. Never gives a yes-or-no answer, because the questions are more complicated than that. 951. Always venting about something that’s bothering him. 952. Always stuffs his cash into his pocket or purse, without a wallet, and sometimes it sticks out or shows. 953. Can solve complex math problems in his head. 954. Likes his gingerbread men in the shape of ants, flowers, women, etc. 955. Has a vast library of anecdotes from his own past. 956. Has a passion for classic literature, classical music, silent movies, etc. 957. Can’t cook, sew, vacuum, etc. 958. Loves to insult, belittle, irritate, etc. others, because of their reaction. 959. Always gets others to agree first to something he doesn’t want, knowing it will make it easier to get them to agree later to what he does want. 960. Jealous of his image, and goes to extraordinary lengths to protect it. 961. Always does the unconventional thing, even if it gets him into trouble. 962. Always answers questions he asks for the person he asked. 963. Can’t dance; always steps on his partner’s feet, gets out of sync, etc. 964. Loves sailing, motorboating, yachting, waterskiing, etc. 965. Always distinguishes actors from the characters they play, and gets upset at people who refer to an actor by a character’s name. 966. Always speaks in a sing-song voice with a giggle. 967. Very chatty; except around chatty people, he’s all business. 968. Pretends that his favorite figurines, dolls, etc. talk to him. 969. Always flirting with and kissing his girlfriend or wife. 970. Always juggling dates (i.e., romantic engagements). 971. Always stands up to his boss, but always end up giving in. 972. Keeps bandages in the freezer; they feel better when they‘re cold. 973. Never does manual labor of any sort. 974. Has a fancy toast, handshake, etc. that he uses with his friends. 975. Always plans for the worst, but never gets bogged down expecting it. 976. Drives like a jerk; treats stop signs and red lights as only advisory; passes everyone else whenever he can; etc. 977. Puts maple syrup, salt, butter, etc. on everything. 978. Always crosses at right angles to the street, to be considerate to drivers. 979. Thinks two things that look the same (or sound, etc.) are the same thing. (So, two stores with the same awning are the same location.) 980. Distrusts all government agencies, even law-enforcement, on principle. The Quirks
981. Always carping that early episodes of Mythbusters were so much better. 982. Has to fold a towel 3 times before he gets it right. 983. Freely advocates experimenting (“playing God”) with human life, the weather, etc., because otherwise, how can we learn how to do it safely? 984. Shuns church, because pipe organs are made with animal glue. 985. Always offended when he discovers that someone listened to him just to shut him up (and then didn’t follow his advice). 986. As pets, keeps a spider, platypus, giant cockroach, cockr oach, etc. 987. Hates M&M’s, ice cream, rum cake, etc,, because... Eww! 988. Has a secret dream world where he becomes the real person no one sees. 989. Always asks a question instead of making a statement. 990. Sings his own on-the-spot lyrics to the tune of a popular song. 991. Thinks what he sees on Cinemax , Playboy , etc. is real. 992. Miriam Stockley’s song “Perfect Day” makes him cry, feel happy, etc. 993. Everything is always a joke, especially if it’s in a stressful situation. 994. Never flushes the toilet. (Or always flushes it twice, or before he goes.) 995. Inserts personal questions into business conversations, and vice-versa. 996. Can apologize easily and sincerely when he’s wrong. (Or can’t.) 997. Likes to take his time dating before becoming physically involved. 998. Jumpy; startled, jumps out of his skin at the simplest unexpected event. 999. Always puts the good part after the but , as in, “I’m under a lot of stress, but I’m happy.” (Most people do it the other way around.) 1000. Does not believe love has any intrinsic power, marriage any sanctity, etc., because an abstraction means nothing without concrete instances of it. 1001. Never gets to the point until after he expresses how he feels about it.
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1001 Character Quirks