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  • Writer's pictureRachel Demeter

How to Write Character Habits and Quirks

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

When I sit down to create characters for my stories, I don't just think about their appearance and background. I delve deep into their personalities by giving them habits and quirks that make them feel real. These unique traits not only set them apart but also make them relatable and memorable to my readers. In this blog, I'll share my insights on how to write character habits and quirks effectively, providing actionable examples and tips to help you breathe life into your fictional creations.

Understanding the Importance of Character Habits and Quirks

Before we dive into the how-to, let's explore why character habits and quirks matter. Imagine reading a book or watching a movie with characters who all act and think the same way; it would be incredibly dull. Habits and quirks add depth and authenticity to your characters. They make them more believable and human, helping readers connect with them on a personal level.

1. Observation is Key

To write convincing character habits and quirks, I start with keen observation. People-watching is a fantastic source of inspiration. Pay attention to the behaviors, gestures, and idiosyncrasies of the people around you. Notice how they tap their fingers when they're nervous, twirl their hair when they're deep in thought, or use a specific phrase frequently. These subtle actions can be transformed into unique character traits.

Tip: Keep a notebook or a digital document handy to jot down interesting habits and quirks you observe in real life.

2. Connect Habits and Quirks to Personality

Character habits and quirks should reflect your character's personality, history, and experiences. Ask yourself: What events shaped them? How do they cope with stress or joy? Let's say you have a character who grew up near the ocean. They might have a habit of collecting seashells or constantly talking about marine life. These details not only make the character more believable but also add depth to their backstory.

3. Be Subtle and Consistent

Effective character habits and quirks should enhance the story, not distract from it. Subtlety is key. Don't make them so exaggerated that they overshadow the character's other qualities. Also, consistency is crucial. If your character is a neat freak, don't suddenly have them be messy without a valid reason. Readers will notice and find it jarring.

Tip: Create a character profile that includes their habits and quirks, and refer to it to maintain consistency throughout your story.

4. Use Habits to Develop Relationships

Character habits and quirks can also serve as valuable tools for developing relationships and adding depth to dialogues. For example, if one character always taps their foot when they're nervous and another character notices this, it can lead to a conversation or a moment of connection between them.

5. Let Habits and Quirks Evolve

Just like real people, characters can change and evolve. As your character grows and faces challenges, their habits and quirks can evolve too. This evolution can provide a powerful narrative arc and character development, making your story more engaging.

Conclusion: How to Write Character Habits and Quirks

Creating character habits and quirks is an art that can elevate your storytelling. By observing real-life behaviors, connecting these traits to your character's personality, being subtle and consistent, using them to develop relationships, and allowing them to evolve, you can craft characters that readers will remember long after they've turned the last page.

So, the next time you sit down to create a character, remember to give them those unique quirks and habits that make them feel like real people. Your readers will thank you for it, and your stories will come to life in ways you never imagined.

Happy writing!

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