250+ List of Character Quirks for Believable Characters

Do you want to make your character stand out from the rest? Or are they feeling a little flat? If so, character quirks might be just what your character needs to make them jump off the page and grab the attention of your reader.

Quirks are tiny details that help transform an otherwise average character into something more interesting.

With this article, you will get access to 250+ different character quirks to choose from!

In this article, you will learn:
  1. What character quirks are
  2. Why they are important
  3. How to incorporate them into your characters
  4. A list of example quirks to help you brainstorm

What Are Character Quirks?

A character quirk is a subtle detail about your character that makes them unique.

It's not something huge or drastic, but rather small details in their personality, appearance, or behavior that reveal more about who they are under the surface and helps you flesh memorable characters out. It could be how they always chew on their pencil when nervous or where they place their hands while talking to someone new.

Examples of famous quirks range from physical quirks such as Harry Potter's lightning-shaped scar, to Katniss Everdeen's skill with her bow, to Spider-Man's tendency to spout humorous quips while stringing up bad guys (Pro Tip: Superheroes are a great source of character quirk examples).

Why Are Character Quirks Important?

Adding character quirks to your character makes them more complex and interesting for both you and your reader. It also gives you an opportunity to challenge yourself as a writer by developing unique traits for each character, rather than generalizing their character traits.

Quirks help your character stand out from the other characters in the book. They also make them feel more like a real person, which can be especially important for character-driven stories.

By the way, if you want to really flesh out your characters, we've got an all-inclusive character profile builder that you can look at. Follow this template and you'll find your characters are just jumping off the page at you (not literally, unfortunately)
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How to Use Character Quirks in Your Novel

Character quirks can be developed during character creation or they can evolve naturally as you write your character's story over time. The important thing is that the quirks make sense and don't feel forced, which will come with practice and editing of each character trait before it goes out for a final draft.

Here are a few strategies for incorporating quirks into your story:

  1. Make them important to the plot or characters: a quirk that serves no purpose will just seem like extra fluff. That's why you want to make sure that each quirk serves a purpose to either advance the plot, or deep in what we know about the characters.
  2. Try the unexpected: you may be tempted to give your characters a quirk that makes sense for what you know about their character. But what if you gave them a quirk that seemingly clashed? How might this deep in the character, or help you understand them differently?
  3. Be original: it's easy to get caught up in stereotypes when using quirks. That's why it's important to try unique combinations, and quirks you've never heard of before when developing your characters. Just make sure they also serve a purpose, and are not different for the sake of being different.

Once you have a quirk, you can input it into your character profile and may be included in a few character exercises. In fact, one great way of learning what your character's quirks are is to interview them. You'll be surprised what comes out as you write in their voice.

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How NOT to Use Character Quirks

The most important thing to avoid when using character quirks is any stereotype or cliché. Not only can these lead to a dull reading experience, but in some cases can be out right offensive.

Here are a few examples of some quirks that are overused, cliché, or otherwise should not be used in your novel:

  • A character who talks to themselves
  • Staring off into space as they ponder a tough question
  • Always accusing others of being wrong or stupid
  • Having pale skin
  • Wearing a crooked smile
  • Being overly clumsy
  • Being self-deprecating

In the end, character quirks are perfect for helping your character feel more like real flesh and blood, but overdoing it can lead to character traits that feel forced and unnatural, so it's important to keep distinctive quirks in check by making sure they serve a purpose and are not cliché.

The Ultimate List of Character Quirks

All right, so now that we understand how to use character quirks in your novel, let's get into our ultimate list of character habits.

You can use these to brainstorm ideas for your characters, or combine them in specific ways to make original quirks.

However you do it, I hope you enjoy this list:

Physical Quirks

A lot of quirks are physical in nature. Here are a few examples:

  1. Has a lot of freckles
  2. Has a lot of tattoos, or an unusual tattoo
  3. Is always too cold or hot
  4. Has asymmetrical features
  5. Has an athletic build
  6. Has two eyes of different colors
  7. A distinguishing feature like a mole or noticeable scar
  8. Wears strange glasses
  9. Is extremely tall or short
  10. Is very thin or fat
  11. Wears braces
  12. Has messy, disheveled hair
  13. Has perfect here
  14. The shape of the nose
  15. Has acne, eczema or other skin problems
  16. A lazy eye
  17. A specific birthmark
  18. An unusual eye color
  19. An unusual hair color or style
  20. Has very long fingernails
  21. Bad breath
  22. A unique allergy
  23. A fidget or
  24. Large feet
  25. Very hairy arms or legs
  26. Left-Handed or ambidextrous
  27. Has a physical tic
  28. Talks loudly or whispers a lot
  29. Has an accent
  30. Is extremely ticklish, especially in certain places
  31. Shows hygiene issues such as not showering regularly; smelling bad; always having greasy hair etc.

Clothing/Accessories Quirks

Clothing can often be more quirky than physical appearance, because it relates to the character personality traits:

  1. Always wears makeup
  2. Wears a specific article of clothing or jewelry
  3. Clothes always look perfectly pressed
  4. Likes to wear boots or any other type of shoes
  5. Always looks professional
  6. Always looks disheveled
  7. Clothing is mismatched
  8. Dresses in a flashy style
  9. Dresses in a dull style
  10. Is always wearing activewear
  11. Dresses in very revealing clothing
  12. Tends to overdress or underdress for any occasion
  13. Is bigger than the clothing he/she wears
  14. Only wears knockoffs or designer wear
  15. Likes to dress in styles for much younger people
  16. Wears oversized clothes
  17. Wears shorts even when it's cold outside
  18. Wears socks with their sandals
  19. Wears heels all the time
  20. Keeps up with the latest styles
  21. Always wears the same color
  22. Always wears the exact same type of clothing
  23. Always wears clothes that are way outdated
  24. Never irons their clothes
  25. Dresses in ethnic clothing
  26. Has a very unusual hair style or color when compared to the character's culture
  27. Spends an unreasonable amount of money on clothes.
  28. Makes up silly names for all of their outfits (ie: Pj's)
  29. Is always wearing pajamas or underclothes out in public.

Personality Quirks

Some of the most rewarding quirks take the form of the character's personality, such as these examples:

  1. Is an adrenaline junkie
  2. Loves to talk about what they've accomplished
  3. Is extremely enthusiastic
  4. Is extroverted or introverted
  5. Makes snap decisions
  6. Judges other people too quickly
  7. Needs the approval of others
  8. Is obsessed with their own personal hygiene
  9. Trusts people too often
  10. Is a perfectionist
  11. Over plans
  12. Always looking for new adventures
  13. Doesn't like change
  14. Is suspicious of other people
  15. Takes credit for other people's work
  16. Likes to one-up people
  17. Roots for the underdog
  18. Very reactive and emotional
  19. Take things too personally
  20. Is a lovable teddy bear
  21. Argues a lot for no reason
  22. Prefers to go without a plan
  23. Doesn't like to touch people
  24. Control freak
  25. Never admit when they're wrong
  26. Can't tell a lie even to save their own life
  27. Is always patient
  28. Has a unique sense of humor
  29. Is stoic and it's hard to make them laugh
  30. Frequently complains
  31. Will do anything for friends or family
  32. Always cautious and careful
  33. Sleeps all the time
  34. Has a horrible or perfect sense of direction
  35. Loves to be the best at everything
  36. Overly humble
  37. Overly emotional in many situations
  38. Is always dating new people
  39. Is obsessed with the latest in pop culture
  40. Doesn't like to talk about their past
  41. Is obsessed with one particular thing or hobby
  42. Keeps to themselves for the most part.
  43. Is very forgetful and doesn't like to be reminded of things from the past
  44. Believes in aliens and UFOs

Behavioral Quirks

Next, let's talk about behavioral quirks, which are very similar to personality quirks, but can manifest in more obvious ways:

  1. Likes to sit facing or turned away from the door
  2. Bites their lip a lot
  3. Is a chain smoker
  4. Likes to chew gum
  5. Clears their throat frequently
  6. Uses a specific filler word often
  7. Likes to flip their hair
  8. Jingles keys
  9. Has a loud laugh
  10. Licks Their Lips A Lot
  11. Likes to hum
  12. Likes to move when talking
  13. Makes a lot of hand gestures when talking
  14. Paces a lot when thinking
  15. Prefers to sit at the end of a row
  16. Sniffs or scoffs a lot
  17. Snorts when laughing
  18. Taps or strokes their chin or nose when thinking
  19. Taps their fingernails on a hard surface
  20. Giggles frequently
  21. Uses air quotes when talking
  22. Has a distinctive laugh
  23. Whistles a lot
  24. Rolls their eyes a lot.
  25. Has made up words for common items
  26. Twitches often, particularly when nervous

We all eat and drink, and a lot of us develop quirks around this. Giving your character a food-related quirk can lead to some interesting character dynamics:

  1. Always orders the same thing
  2. Scarfs down the food
  3. Always brings a snack wherever they go
  4. Belches loudly after eating
  5. Is constantly talking about diet
  6. Drinks a lot of coffee or tea
  7. Eats while driving
  8. Is a very delicate eater
  9. Comments on other people's food
  10. Lets everyone know that they are vegan
  11. Is a messy eater
  12. Only eats organic food
  13. Will eat off of other people's plates
  14. Prefers junk food or home-cooked meals
  15. Overeats in private
  16. Is a picky eater
  17. Takes huge bites of food
  18. Tucks a napkin into their shirt before eating
  19. Doesn't like to eat in front of other people
  20. Only eats after they see other people eat first
  21. Only eats after everyone else has finished eating
  22. Gulps down their drink or beer
  23. Is frequently talking about food.
  24. Prefers only healthy snacks and drinks, but will eat junk food in private
  25. Will try anything once when it comes to new foods/drinks
  26. Likes to cook for others more than themselves

Body Quirks

Different from physical appearance, body quirks can be behaviors involving one's movement or walking habits. For example:

  1. Frequently adjusts their sleeves
  2. Bounces their legs when sitting
  3. Has a peppy, bouncy walk
  4. Walks with purpose
  5. Cracks knuckles a lot
  6. Enters a room timidly
  7. Swings their arms a lot or not at all when walking
  8. Walks without purpose
  9. Bites nails or picks at nail polish
  10. Often pulls down their jacket or skirt
  11. Scratches their head
  12. Scratches their face
  13. Bobs their foot when sitting with crossed legs
  14. Takes large or tiny steps
  15. Pushes past people
  16. Likes to pop their back
  17. Walks with a limp
  18. Holds their weight on one side when standing
  19. Leans back in the chair
  20. Leans toward people when they are speaking
  21. Leans against the wall and standing
  22. Props her feet up on furniture
  23. Text there hands behind her head when seated
  24. Often squirms when sitting
  25. Stands or sits extremely still
  26. Hangs her hands straight at their side
  27. Leans away from people
  28. Tends to slouch
  29. Likes to stretch a lot
  30. There head facing down most of the time

Competency Quirks

A lot of quirks have to do with what your character is good at…or not so good at. Let's take a look at a few.

Strength-based Quirks:

  1. Great at cooking
  2. Plays a musical instrument
  3. Has an artistic talent (i.e. drawing, painting, or sculpting)
  4. Great at impressions
  5. A ventriloquist
  6. Can do magic tricks
  7. Speaks many languages
  8. Knows a lot of useless trivia
  9. An expert hacker
  10. Can build anything
  11. Great at logical reasoning
  12. Great at debate
  13. A photographic memory
  14. Connects with animals
  15. Empathetic and good at understanding people
  16. A fast runner
  17. A contortionist
  18. Has a superpower
  19. Isn't afraid of anything

Weakness-based Quirks

  1. Can't drive/drive well
  2. Never punctual
  3. You can't read their handwriting
  4. Terrified of public speaking
  5. Socially awkward
  6. Shops too often
  7. An alcoholic
  8. A kleptomaniac
  9. A pathological liar
  10. Manipulative of their friends
  11. Gets jealous easily
  12. Passive agressive
  13. Has a strong phobia or irrational fear
  14. Has an unhealthy obsession

Communication Quirks

A lot of quirks come to light when communicating with someone else, and dialogue is the perfect way to reveal these quirks. For example:

  1. Can't stand silence when chatting
  2. Speaks slowly and deliberately, thinking through each word
  3. Over-describes things
  4. Doesn't speak unless addressed directly
  5. Exaggerates everything
  6. Enunciates
  7. Uses their arms a lot when speaking
  8. Avoids eye contact
  9. Doesn't say what they want directly
  10. Must have the last word
  11. Has nicknames for everyone
  12. Pauses for a long time when speaking
  13. Restates what other people say
  14. Talks to themself
  15. Talks very fast
  16. Talks with a sing-songy cadence
  17. Has over-exaggerated expressions
  18. Has a specific dialect
  19. Winks a lot when communicating
  20. Has a unique speech pattern

Random Quirks

There are a few more that don't really fall into any of the above categories. For example:

  1. Gets hiccups often
  2. Is highly politically active
  3. Is easy to influence
  4. Snores at night
  5. Takes in stray animals
  6. Looks at the bright side in every situation
  7. Only drinks sparkling water
  8. Walks around barefoot
  9. Sings opera in the shower
  10. Does meal prep
  11. Looks in every mirror
  12. Is superstitious (won't walk under a ladder, etc.)
  13. Prefers the dark
  14. Doesn't read old/new books
  15. Prefers to go out on the town by themselves
  16. Loves watching “bad” movies
  17. Is a thoughtful gift-giver
  18. Leaves notes in library books for future readers
  19. Uses a tissue to touch surfaces in public spaces
  20. Calls their mom every day
  21. Clucks their tongue a lot
  22. Quotes movies all the time
  23. Claims to know how they will die
  24. Grows all their own food
  25. Can recite poetry
  26. Has a vision board
  27. Recycles regularly
  28. Loves the beach but hates swimming
  29. Has a strong Instagram feed and following
  30. Has an imaginary friend

Choose Wisely

There are a lot of options on this list, but make sure you don't add too many to your characters. Pick one or two and run with those. They can be on this list or something that you make up yourself.

If you have any other ideas, be sure to let us know through our contact page, and we might include it on the list! We love to hear your feedback.

I promise you that you more you can give your character personality flaws, an irrational fear, or other idiosyncrasy, you will find that it results in memorable fictional characters and improved character development.

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