Jennifer Lyon

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021
Character Quirks

Time got away from me which is 50% my fault and 50% my son’s fault for daring to call me to chat and throwing me off my stride :-) That’s my official excuse for a quick Wednesday post.

Characters quirks make help make heroes, heroines and secondary characters, recognizable, relatable and interesting. They also develop a character’s emotional arc, but that’s a deeper (longer) post. This is more for fun today. I’m going to use Eve Dallas from J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series because those books are recognizable in some form to the majority of readers. I’m going to skip over her childhood trauma which is Eve’s motivation for most of her life decisions, and stick to quirks–those smaller, but recognizable traits that, when added together, make us unique as individuals. For Eve, what amuses me and keeps drawing me back to her in the series, is her “literal thinking”.

I can think of two examples. Keep in mind, I’m simplifying a really complex and well-done character to boil it down to amusing quirks. And these are “my” interpretation of the character. Each reader has their own interpretation :-)

  1. Eve is a “literal thinker” meaning that she interprets things, well, literally. To her, words should mean the dictionary definition, so when she the comes across idioms like the Pot Calling the Kettle Black or Raining Cats and Dogs or Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch, she’s confounded. She’s always questioning the logic of the sayings, and it cracks me up every time. I look for these little conversational asides to pop up in each of the “in death” books I read. They are also great ways to give readers a little break from tension.
  2. The second one is Eve’s “Marriage Rules.” In Eve’s childhood, she didn’t have any healthy relationships or a good marriages to teach her the meaning of love, and the obligations that go with loving a person. She’s so confused by little things like calling to let her spouse know she’s late but alive, buying gifts, couple friends or a million other little things most of us learn growing up. Eve’s solution is to creates a mental list she calls the Marriage Rules. To her, it’s a mental guide to navigating marriage for not hurting her or angering her husband out of ignorance. I love those rules. Eve really hasn’t grasped that the fact that she created the rules alone shows her love for her husband. It’s also a great way to show a character’s emotional arc, and keep them interesting.

Those are some quirks I love in romance novel characters. Now it’s your turn to share quirks that you love.

6 comments to “Character Quirks”

  1. B.E. Sanderson
    March 31st, 2021 at 7:37 am · Link

    Gah, I’m so bad at thinking of the things I love in reading after I put the books down. I can’t even think of the things I’ve written this morning. Blerg.

    Great post, though. =o)

  2. Silver James
    March 31st, 2021 at 7:44 am · Link

    You do realize that Eve is one of my favorite characters of all time and In Death is totally my favorite series! To add to your #1, I enjoy not only that idioms drive her crazy but when she misquotes them, like “the pot calling the frying pan black.” Someone, usually Peabody or Roarke, corrects her and then she launches into her literal explanation and question of why a kettle would call a pot black.

    Another quirk she has I enjoy is her “disassociation” when it comes to time zones. Good thing Roarke is all knowledgeable. Ah yes, I can rhapsodize about them for hours. I will mention Roarke’s quirk that endears him even more and I get frustrated with LaNora when it doesn’t appear–The Button™. It’s his touchstone. Fans of the series know, no spoilers for any who might be intrigued enough to try the series. It appears in book one and remains throughout.

    I’m trying to think of quirks in either my characters or others from series I love. Hannah and Sade are both coffee fiends and have a tendancy to cuss. Hannah does it due to temper. Sade for the shock value.

    Ah ha! Thought of one, though I stopped reading the series after about 10 books*. Charley Davidson (First Grave on the Right, et al.) has a thing for pop culture sayings–you know, the clever quips that show up on T-shirts and coffee mugs.

    I’m only on my 2nd cup of coffee so the brain isn’t fully in gear yet. About the time I lay down to sleep tonight, I’ll probably get all sorts of ideas! 🤣 Great topic, FYI.

    *note to self, go back and finish the series one of these days

  3. Viki S.
    March 31st, 2021 at 3:16 pm · Link

    I rarely think about the quirks but after reading your post and Silver’s it is a fact that I love Charley’s coffee quirk. That girl will do just about anything for a mocha ( a girl after my own heart ). Her slogan shirts are pop culture with a twist and they always make me laugh.

    I sure hope you’re having a great day.

  4. Jenn
    March 31st, 2021 at 4:45 pm · Link

    B.E., I’m pretty much the same. Which is why a used an easy to remember character like Eve Dallas as my example :-)

  5. Jenn
    March 31st, 2021 at 4:49 pm · Link

    Silver, YES on both her misquoting the idioms, and her time zone issues.

    The button pops up here and there :-)

    I’ve only read one Charley book, but I should read more to catch that quirk, I like it! (I don’t know why I haven’t read more except that I jump around a lot my reading choices.)

    Well I hope you don’t get ideas at 2 in the morning! We all need sleep more than details on character quirks!

  6. Jenn
    March 31st, 2021 at 4:50 pm · Link

    Viki, Charley sounds even more dedicated to coffee than I am! That’s impressive!

    My days been good, hope you got your heater fixed!

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