I had hoped this week’s post would be from a photo shoot of my newly remodeled writing room, but for reasons that are too numerous to go into, that isn’t happening. Maybe for the next post the built-in cabinets will be in place and the books and stuff will be on them. Maybe.
Instead, I thought I’d talk about realism in characters. Most of the time when I talk about character believability I bring up strengths and weaknesses, but this time I want to share a bit about eccentricities. All the best characters have little things that make them feel real, things that stick out when you try to describe the character to someone else. Like Jack Reacher’s toothbrush. Jack lives with nothing. He never owns more than one pair of clothes—the clothes he’s wearing—one pair of shoes—ditto—and the cash in his wallet. The toothbrush is the only thing that he takes with him from place to place, and he’s had to replace that a few times when a fast getaway is required. The toothbrush aspect plays into his weaknesses and strengths, and his brokenness as well, but mostly it’s just eccentric.
Kim Harrison’s character Ivy has killer boots and that amazing hair. She’s cold and dangerous and exciting, which plays off the main character, Rachel Morgan, who never quite knows what to wear, is a bit klutzy, and is generally engaging. The two characters work together from a writing standpoint as much because of the meshing of their eccentricities as because of their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Besides the whole lady pirate thing, Misty Massey’s Mad Kestrel has her whistling magic. If you don’t know what I mean, read the book.
DB Jackson’s Ethan Kaille seems un-eccentric, but he’s paired off against Saphria, who is eccentric in dress, mannerisms, job description (for a woman), and is dangerous in every way. The mild-mannered but un-relenting, un-forgiving Ethan is a hard, cold, flint-like monolith in her path, and when they square off, it’s the eccentricities that make the relationship spark like flint and steel, fire in every confrontation.
Merit, in the Chloe Neill series, is a vamp turned against her will, and though she could have sat and whined, she accepted what she had become and what her strengths were. And she has this sword. And she eats Twinkies. Every time I read a Merit book I want a katana and a package of cream filled sin.
Monk the whole OCD tic thing. ‘Nuff said.
I’ve tried to figure out Jane Yellowrock’s eccentricities and I honestly can’t pick one. She is so foreign to my own life and personality that everything she is and does is unconventional. She eats meat, I eat salads. She owns dozens of weapons, I have two guns and the kitchen knives. She has a Harley and I have an SUV. The only thing we have in common is the Lucchese boots. Seriously. Because I am totally not eccentric. Except for the orchids and skulls I collect. Okay. Maybe I am a bit weird. Just a bit.
So. Brainstorm. Name some tics and eccentricities of your favorite characters from books or TV or film.