I love quirky books which probably explains why I read so much speculative fiction when I was a tween and teen. I devoured Robert Asprin’s Myth series and Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Human characters, mythical characters and characters spun from the author’s imagination, quirky characters and the stories they populate are just so much fun.
Unfortunately, every now and then I’ll pick something up and find that I just can’t get into it. The plot sounds interesting and the characters are quirky but somehow everything fails to come together.
To avoid having this problem in your own story, keep these four tips in mind.
Part of the Story
For your story to work, there has to be a reason for it to be populated by quirky characters. They have to have a reason to be there. Quirk for the sake of quirk may be amusing at first, but eventually it stops working. Perhaps the quirky character is an obstacle to the main character. Or the quirky character may make a trait the main character has more obvious.
There also has to be a reason for the quirkiness. It doesn’t have to be an individual reason. Perhaps everyone in a region, town, or family has a certain trait. Or, like the Joker in Batman, the behavior is a result of something that happened in the past. Knowing the why will make it all more meaningful.
Something in Common
Don’t just make the character quirky. Give the character a trait that the reader will identify or sympathize with. It could be that the person follows baseball. Or perhaps they are mourning a lost opportunity. It will all depend on what will click with your reader.
Last but not least, give your quirky character a redeeming quality. Perhaps your character loves animals or wants to save the planet. Perhaps he works to fund books for poor schools or she donates to a soup kitchen. This is another way to link your quirky character to the larger world.
Quirky characters can be a lot of fun to read and to write. Just be sure that you create a character that has the depth needed to help carry your story forward.