Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Creating Characters


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

Quirky People Make Quirky Characters

by Pam Hillman

You want your characters to be quirky, but not too quirky, right? You want them to have real flaws and believable habits, but not come across as a basket case of nervous energy, or just plain loopy. And you want people to identify with them, right.

So, how quirky is too quirky?

How about this: A housewife counts the plates as she puts them into the dishwasher, the spoons as she puts them in the drawer. She counts the towels as she folds them. A grandmother cannot bring herself to throw away a note of encouragement or anything of sentimental value.

A man who rubs his feet together to fall asleep. His wife has to be wearing socks to snooze.

What about a dirty napkin phobia? One woman said that she never crumples her used napkin. She folds it. If someone else crumples theirs, she can't keep from looking at it. And don’t expect her to touch someone else's crumpled up napkins when cleaning up. Now that’s a phobia.

Quirky People Make Quirky Characters

One of my own pet peeves: A crooked picture drives me insane. I will straighten them whenever I see them.

I can’t stand for a stack of stapled papers to be haphazard. I will take out the staple and re-staple them together all nice and neat. Completely oblivious to my little habit, I did this once while the guy who’d stapled them together was standing next to my desk chatting. It was kinda embarrassing when he pointed out what I’d done. Oops!

I’ve heard of someone saying it was impossible for them to fall asleep lying down. That one has me scratching my head, and I’d like to ask that person how they do fall asleep. Maybe they sleep in a recliner or something!

I'm a hand washer. I wash my hands all the time. The first thing I used to do when I got to work was to wash my hands. Of course this was a good habit to have to keep germs away.

I love this one… One woman reported that she has a thing with even and odd. She doesn't like odd numbers so she only deals with things that are even. She can't just have one cookie, she has to have two, and if she gets three, she’ll need another one to make it even.

So, how about three Krispy Kreme donuts, please? Using her phobia, I’d have to have four!

I’ve got pages and pages of these quirks I’ve saved over the years, and I imagine your particular quirk is on the list. Dollars to donuts, your quirk is also somebody else’s quirk, and even more importantly, can become one of your character’s quirks.

Three more, because I can’t resist….

Quirky People Make Quirky Characters

M&M’s are a popular quirk, from eating them before a flight, to before a doctor’s appointment, to sorting them into piles and eating certain colors. One man said that the more blue M&M’s, the better his flight. A former co-worker of mine sorted her M&M’s before she ate them. She ate all of one color, then the next color, and so on. Any of you have a M&M quirk?

Another plane quirk: One woman said she has to tap the outside of the plane ten times. Someone else said he sleeps with a window open—even in the dead of winter, and will not sleep with his head pointed toward a door. Now, this I can understand. I wouldn’t want my head pointed toward a door while sleeping. Makes perfect sense to me!

Anybody feel up to sharing their quirks, or even better quirks you've given your characters? Or quirks you've discovered while reading other's books that you found interesting, funny, or really odd? Quirks in movies? I can think of a few. :)

Quirky People Make Quirky Characters

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.

Does Your Character Believe a Lie?

 by DiAnn Mills

Lies distort a character’s view of the world. The lens of reality twists the truth, causing the character to react in unforeseen ways, which is win-win situation for the writer. The result is an unpredictable and unexpected plotline fueled by a character who is motivated by a lie.

Have you ever believed a lie? The emotional ramifications can destroy us if we don’t muster the courage to explore the truth. Consider your character. With the personality, culture, and life experiences assigned to them, how does the writer weave a powerful story?

The character who learns he or she has been the victim of a lie faces the devastation of hurt, anger, and betrayal. The person who spoke the fabrication may deny it, and that becomes another issue for the character. To maintain good mental health, the character must reach deep for forgiveness and take cautionary steps for the future. The relationship may or may not ever be restored. Trust must be earned.

How the character responds to the realization of a lie shows the inner character and lays the foundation for a protagonist or an antagonist. The determination of a lie can motivate the character into a positive realm or a negative one.

Does Your Character Believe a Lie?
Lies influence the character’s goals, wants, needs, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, dialogue, behavior, and emotion. When rage drives the character’s actions, unpredictable behavior sets the stage for a page-turning story. Yet the process of weaving all the intricacies of literary techniques into a profound story takes hard work.

But what about the lies our characters accept about themselves? How does a character journey on an adventure when they hold a false outlook of life? Aren’t our characters supposed to embrace strength? How does that affect their decisions and motivate them into action when they accept a distorted truth destined to stop them from reaching their full potential?

Perhaps the problem with our character is not what the writer believes about them, but what the character believes about him- or herself.

Writers develop situations that force a character to face a lie. Those powerful drama-filled scenes move the story in exciting directions, often explaining how and why the falsehood entered the picture. Some characters do not have the courage to accept the truth and will never change their beliefs or values. They flee from scenarios that force them to examine their true selves. The result is a weak character who cowers to life happenings or becomes an antagonist who strikes out in rage.

The origin of a character’s misconception is often rooted in childhood. During the development years, physical, mental, and spiritual stimuli mold a child’s view of where he or she fits in the world and how to cope with life’s trials. Peer pressure and those who are respected can instill admirable or detestable behavior.

The character may believe
  • I have no choice but to be perfect.
  • Life isn’t fair.
  • I’ll never be happy unless I have lots of money.
  • Everyone is out to get me.
  • God’s love must be earned.
  • Without a face-lift and tummy tuck, I’ll never be beautiful.
  • Morals are a personal preference.
  • Laws are to be broken.
  • Relationships are fifty-fifty. Anything less and I’m out of here.
  • The only way for someone to love me is for me to take care of them.
The character may choose to believe
  • No human is perfect, but we strive to do our best. We make mistakes, learn from them, and move forward.
  • Life isn’t fair or easy, but challenges have the potential to grow us into better people.
  • Money buys what we need and sometimes what we want. It’s a vehicle to provide for ourselves and others. True happiness is internal.
  • Bad attitudes result from selfishness. Take steps to put others first in a healthy way.
  • God’s love is unconditional. We can’t do a thing to cause Him to love us more or less.
  • True beauty is an attitude of the heart and how we treat others.
  • Right vs. wrong behavior is established by spiritual and moral resources to show justice, equality, and love.
  • Laws are in force to protect us from danger and keep us safe.
  • Relationships are always 100 percent of what we can give, not what we can take.
  • Caring for others is admirable but caretaking is not the vehicle of self-worth.
For writers determined to create real and unforgettable characters, I encourage the following:
  • Study psychology books, reputable blog posts, and articles that focus on the behavior of one who experiences a lie.
  • Interview counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists who are trained professionals in human behavior.
  • Explore respected websites that focus on human behavior and counseling techniques. 
  • Stay alert to people and the world. Keep a journal of conflicting emotions that could have resulted from a lie.

When a writer discovers the source of what a character internalizes about him- or herself, the character must choose. Is he or she motivated to change? How does the process work? Will it be painful? Does the character grasp the courage to process the lie and step forward with truth? The result is an impressive novel certain to entertain and inspire readers.

About DiAnn

Does Your Character Believe a Lie?
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and won two Christy Awards, the Golden Scroll, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. DiAnn continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers through her website at

About Concrete Evidence

Does Your Character Believe a Lie?
On the family’s Brazos River Ranch in Texas, Avery Elliott helps run her grandfather’s commercial construction business. Raised by Senator Elliott, Avery has never doubted her grandfather is the man of integrity and faith she’s always believed him to be . . . until the day she finds him standing with a gun over the body of a dead man. To make matters worse, Avery’s just discovered a billing discrepancy for materials supposedly purchased for construction of the Lago de Cobre Dam.

Desperate for answers, Avery contacts FBI Special Agent Marc Wilkins for help. As Marc works to identify the dead man Avery saw, threats toward Avery create a fresh sense of urgency to pinpoint why someone wants to silence her. With a hurricane approaching the Texas coast and the structural integrity of the Lago de Cobre Dam called into question, time is running out to get to the bottom of a sinister plot that could be endangering the lives of not only Avery and her loved ones but the entire community.

Releases October 4, 2022.


Please leave a comment for DiAnn for a chance to win a copy of Concrete Evidence.

*Giveaway courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers and is subject to giveaway terms and conditions of Seekerville and Tyndale House Publishers. US Mailing addresses only.

Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Three


Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Three

In February I talked about Make a character likeable by making someone like them, linked below. In March I talked about Character Arcs, linked below

This month I’m talking about making characters quirky.

1.      Make a character likeable by making someone like them

2.     Character arcs

3.      Give them quirks

4.      My main character types

5.      Avoid backstory dumps

Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Three

Give them quirks.
Quirks become a deep reflection of their true character and become a reminder of a rich backstory.

The thing that comes to mind with this one is, you need to get a piece of information to the reader and have the hero say it. Then later you change your mind about how to write the story and decide instead to impart this piece of information by having the heroine say it, it’s not enough to change the sentence tags. The ‘he said to she said’.

That whole sentence should be in her voice. The words should change. That part of quirks comes down to giving a character a voice that is uniquely hers. The heroine of my WIP is a seamstress. The hero is the overwhelmed widowed homesteading father of three girls. He has no idea what three half-grown girls need. These two do not choose the same words when they speak. They don’t have the same emotions behind their words. This should always be reflected in their reactions, their dialogue, their thoughts.

She thinks in turns of mending a rift, stitching ideas together, fitting pieces, finding patterns. He thinks

Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Three

in terms of the land, planting, cattle, chores. These two don’t speak in the same way about the same thing. That’s a character’s voice.

I’ve used a lot of quirks is my soon-to-be released romance The Element of Love, book #1 of a new series. The opening of this speech is the opening of The Element of Love. My heroines are three brilliant sisters. Educated far beyond what was normal for women in 1870 California. As the daughters of a lumber baron, they are being raised to take over the dynasty he built. They’ve been educated as engineers in a time when the word engineer was a single catch-all description of applied science. Now there are computer engineers, chemical engineers, nuclear engineers, you name it there’s an engineer behind the break-throughs in that field. They are the men and woman applying the science of the day to the real world.

But back then they barely use the term engineer. I found the term civil engineer and those were builders. They were the men (and in my case the woman) who built the trestles across vast, deep, rugged gorges to build the Transcontinental Railroad.

Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Three

Anyone who cana get there, should go see the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs. Those trestles and bridges, the holes blasted in mountains, they are all a wonder. A marvel, especially for that era. 1870 was the heart of the industrial revolution. Inventions and progress in all areas was booming. I found out through my research that a self-propelled tractor already existed. It was really new. The tractor engine had been around for a while, but horses had to pull what they called a traction engine to where it was needed to work. But just before my book begins, they’d learned to hook wheels to the engine and then use that engine to drive the engine to where it was needed.

That’s part of the foundational invention behind the car.

My heroine in book one, The Element of Love is a chemical engineer before that was a thing. She and her sisters had as their dream, after the death of their father, to build his long-desired train tracks to the top of his mountain to haul logs down and haul supplies and people up. Heroine #1 has learned how to handle chemicals, most especially dynamite. She’s learned to survey rugged land so she can blast holes in mountains from opposite sides, working toward the middle. It went twice as fast as working from one end and going all the way through.

My heroine in book two is an inventor, a mechanical engineer and she’s not working on fun, womanly things like improving the sewing machine or inventing a clothes washer. She’s working on the braking system of a train. She’s improving the undercarriage of train cars so they can bear the weight of tons of logs. And her dream is to invent the four-stroke cycle engine, today called the internal combustion engine. It was an invention that had been theorized but had never yet been built. She’s got big dreams and just a nice underlying thirst for fame and fortune, which would come if she could just get that engine invented.

Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Three

My third heroine is a civil engineer. She’s the one building those trestles, telling people how to use the iron she’s ordered to build a bridge and make sure the trestle won’t collapse under tons of logs and that massive iron train engine. I had them think in chemical terms and inventing terms, science terms and construction terms.

It’s tricky trying to create characters who are smarter than I am. I’m not sure I entirely succeeded. I’d say I’m pretty word smart. But these women knew math and science. They thought in term of height and weight, but also altitude and latitude, stress metal and force multipliers. I had to do a lot of research just to let them speak and then, of course, I couldn’t let them say stuff that was convoluted and inaccessible and, let’s face it, boring.

So my brilliant sisters were tricky and very quirky. I also set out from the beginning to figure out a way that my heroines were in a place of peril at the end of each book and she used her scientific, engineering skills to save herself. Which was challenging and fun.

These women were quirky.


Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Two


Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Two
I have permission to use the cover of book #3!!!
A Model of Devotion

Last month I talked about making characters likeable by making someone like them. Find that here.

Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Two
It's OUT
Released March 3
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Baker Book House

This month I’m talking about Character Arcs

1.                  Make a character likeable by making someone like them

2.                  Character arcs

3.                  Give them quirks

4.                  My main character types

5.                  Avoid backstory dumps

Character arcs. Whatever you start with, for a romance novel, or honestly, any novel except maybe Jack Reacher, your character needs to change. But for me, at a person’s most fundamental level, I don’t think people really change. At least not without years of intense therapy. But a person, their strengths and weaknesses, their personalities, don’t really change.

A take charge, feisty woman doesn’t become meek. An easy-going artist doesn’t become a dynamo. Or at least neither of these things happens with a true change of character. If

Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Two
Coming Soon
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Baker Book House

that feisty woman meets a man who likes to run things, but she respects and loves him and likes the way he runs things, well, maybe she’ll let him be in charge. But even if she’s now second in command, she’s still going to be feisty. That easy-going artist might find something that wakes up her passion to run something, but she’s going to do it with an artistic, easy-going flair.

People don’t change who they are, but all personality traits can be used for good or for evil. That feisty lady may have spent her life pushing people away (except for her friends who like her, of course) but in the end, her arc is learning to turn her feisty personality toward charming, respecting and loving others but in a feisty way. So your character arc is revealing who the character is, then showing her grow into her best self—but not a different self. And you as the manipulative, cruel author, put her through your story to develop that best self.


Quirky People Make Quirky CharactersFive Steps to Creating Characters—Step ThreeFive Steps to Creating Characters—Step Two

Report "Seekerville: The Journey Continues"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?