Pinkies Up! Character Quirks and Quandaries

So, for those who have been following lately, you’ll know I’ve been doing Top Ten Tuesday. I didn’t particularly like the topic yesterday, so I skipped it. Plus, I was out to dinner with friends. Which inspired me to write this post.

Three of my friends and I went to a local brewery. Now, I’m not much for beer and such, but I don’t mind trying a sip every now and then. One of my friends and I shared a “flight” of beer, which is basically four very small glasses of beer samples.

While tasting said beer (which I wasn’t too keen on), I realized that every sip I took, I had my pinky finger up, like they always say to do in manner/etiquette classes. Pinkies up!

Pinky Up

It’s not the first time I’ve noticed this. No matter what beverage I’m drinking – water, tea, soda, lemonade, cider, beer, wine, etc. – I invariably have my pinky finger up. Isn’t that weird? I guess it’s just a habit from when I was younger, but I think it’s hilarious! 

Which brought me to my topic: the quirks and quandaries of our characters.

In order to make a character believable, we have to make sure they have quirks, tics, habits, etc. that make them appear “normal.” (I hate that word). But if a character isn’t relatable with little tidbits like this (along with a good POV and voice), then we’ll have lost our audience. Now, not every character needs to be 100% relatable, but we must (or should) see something of ourselves or of someone we know in most of the characters we read about. There are (or should be) few characters that have nothing in common with anyone but themselves, and they’re usually villains. But even there, we can find a semblance of the darker side we all have. Some measure of greed, selfishness, hatred, cruelty, arrogance, etc. 

Overall, however, characters must relate to each other and to the reader. Or at least let the reader imagine they could be like that character. Quirks make characters real.

I’ll give you a couple quirks of my MC and a few of her friends…

Ava (MC): scratches the back of her neck, trips over her feet a lot

Ruth: apologizes too much (which can be annoying), and worries about her weight

Charlie: loses his temper quickly, kicks the ground with his toes when he’s frustrated

Zeke: always has a plant somewhere on his person because he’s studying them, easily gets into trouble (usually with Ava).

Those are my four primary characters in my MG fantasy series. There are many other things that distinguish them from each other and the people they interact with in the book, but these are just a couple things that show their distinct nature. You can probably tell a bit about each character just by knowing those two things about them. 

What about your characters? What quirks set them apart from other characters? Or what little things make them relatable to the reading population? If you need some ideas, go here. He is freely giving away good trait ideas if your character needs a tune-up.

Happy writing!


“I don’t know. Just because someone’s pretty doesn’t mean she’s decent. Or vice versa. I’m not into appearances. I like flaws, I think they make things interesting.” 
― Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever

“We are flawed creatures, all of us. Some of us think that means we should fix our flaws. But get rid of my flaws and there would be no one left.” 
― Sarah VowellTake the Cannoli

“Crippled things are always more beautiful. It’s the flaw that brings out beauty.” 
― Holly BlackTithe



15 thoughts on “Pinkies Up! Character Quirks and Quandaries

    • Ahaha! Me too! I think sometimes I get a little frightened that I won’t do the character justice, especially after all the work I’ve put into their backstory and history. I love backstory, and it’s so important, and yet much of the writing advice about it says not to include that much of it. Especially not all at one. I have to hold myself back on that score. I want everyone to know how awesome or sad this character is. Must… hold… back… 🙂

  1. Great character distinctions! And that’s a great resource for quirks. In my book, Rustav talks to water, a habit picked up as a lonely child. Dantzel tends to get loud quickly when someone gets in her way. And dear Cabel just goes plowing headfirst into everything without considering his own well-being.

  2. I love this! It is such a perfect way to make character more memorable and distinct. My main character dashes off everywhere; he is always rushing to the next adventure. My other main character rolls her eyes a lot, and smirks at others’ silliness.

    • Both good quirks for your characters! Maybe it’s because I’m a physical therapist, but the physical mannerisms and quirks always stand out to me in books, so it’s natural to put them in my writing.

  3. I LOVE your pinky quirk! 🙂 How cute! When I started writing, I used to only describe people’s facial quirks (like frequently biting their lip). Next I took to bringing their hands into it (like twisting their fingers or cracking their knuckles). But now I love other ones such as doing something with their feet. Quirks really do make the characters more vivid. Excellent post! 😀

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