Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cassy’s Corner- Quirky Characters


We all love the characters who stand out. There are the ones we chuckle about, want to invite to dinner, wish they wouldn’t go away when we turn the last page. Many times these special people speak to us because they somehow pull off what we never thought we could do ourselves- the overachiever, the against-all-odds, the believer. Sometimes they are rotten to the core but find redemption. Sometimes they are so much like us that there is no separating their feelings and actions from our own.

Then there are the quirky ones. They make you giggle. You shake your head but keep reading. At times you really don’t believe what they are doing or saying, but you keep loving every minute that they are on the page. I never have liked slap-stick humor. I hated The Three Stooges. Yet, when Stephanie Plum wrecks yet another car I do smile. Why is this? What appeals to us?

I’m working on a new character right now and have started my list of what is going to make her special. What are the qualities that will make you cheer for her, cry with her, and think she is just a little quirky?

Examples of some of my dear characters’ interests have been or might yet to be are :

-       Working through Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and sprinkling odd references throughout her dialogue;
-       Collecting pin cushions (this became a helpful red herring);
-       Clipping obituary notices of people with odd names;
-       Using sticky notes all over the house to remind her of what to do. Often she needs a note to remind her to read the notes;
-       Planning elaborate trips with maps, restaurant notes, train schedules and more for adventures she’ll never take;
-       Learning a new foreign language every year. She’s on number four but not very good in any of them;
-       Watching old movies that have very sad endings;
-       Raising tropical fish in a salt water tank, that always has some malfunction, and;
-       Inventing new gizmos that will somehow make your life better, or more interesting.

The list goes on. As you can tell, I like quirky. When you are reading, what makes a character come to life for you? If you are a writer, how do you decide the components that turn your new friends from drag and ordinary to bold and imaginative? Do share.

15 comments:

Cassy Pickard said...

I noticed that some of the initial letters are cut off when I made my list of quirky activities. I did that as a series of bullets in Word then pasted it into Blogger. Guess you can't do that! If anyone can't read it, let me know.

Cassy Pickard said...

Okay, who is the quirkiest character (living or fictional) you've encountered?

Lindsay said...

Morning Cassy, that is if your in on the East coast and not traveling someplace in the world. If not then just insert the correct time of day.
In fiction there are thre characters that stick out in my mind as quirky.
Mort from our dear friend Kari's cozy. How he showed up, disappeared, popped in/out. He added that little touch to keep me reading to see what he'd do next.
The next is Chet, aka Chet the Jet, from the Spencer Quinn Chet and Bernie Mystery Series. It is interesting how Spencer would put us in Chet's mind and know what he was thinking or wanting to do.
Finally, Dakota. The hero in my Emily Dahill series. Instead of putting the reader in his mind I have the reader see and feel what he's doing, from dropping a potential assailant to playing drums in the Army base band.
Interesting, the quirkiest characters I've encountered are canine or feline.

Anita Clenney said...

I love quirky characters, Cassy. I have to admit I did like the Three Stooges, and I LOVE Stephanie Plum. One of my favorite quirky characters is from that series. Lula is just hilarious. The minute she hits the page, I'm laughing.

Anita Clenney said...

And I LOVE writing quirky characters.In my second book, I have two old ladies who get into all sorts of mayhem, causing the warriors lots of headaches as they try to fight these evil demons.

Also, I think we all have our quirks, and I think that makes people watching so much fun.

Cassy Pickard said...

Lindsay: As always you have a great perspective. The characters you mention have different but truly unique looks on the world. Thanks!

Cassy Pickard said...

PS, Lindsay, I'm on the East Coast and should be for a bit!

Lindsay said...

Never did say I was normal

Cassy Pickard said...

Anita: You are so right. I love Lulu too. The picture of her in that tight pink lycra suit is too much to imagine. There is something so fun about being fun.

Liz Lipperman said...

Quirky characters are a must for cozies. My favorite quirky character is of course, my own. I love Jordan in LLD. She was so much fun to write.

On TV, I'd have to say everyone on Everyone Loves Raymond. I would laugh just watching their facial expressions.

As for movies, I loved Wheezer in Steel Magnolias.

Lindsay said...

Liz, I don't think Jordan is all that quirky. At not when you compare her to the oddballs that live in the same apartment building as she does

Cassy Pickard said...

Liz: I think Lindsay's right. Jordan is lots of fun, but here apartment mates help take her over the edge--in a great way.

Lindsay said...

Cassy I think some of her apartment mates are either tettering on or have gone over the edge

Cassy Pickard said...

Yeh, isn't it great? I love that. But what about in your stories? Who do you set up as the odd one or the one who stands out because of silly/unusual/or other factors?

Lindsay said...

If your asking me Cassy, the answer is usually Dakota but sometimes it will be one of the others. It sort of depends on who's in the scene.