Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Unmasking Your 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.

Unmasking Our Characters

Unmasking Our Characters

By Debby Giusti

Masks Required!

Masks have become the new norm, although I’m sure many of us think they’re a nuisance. Yes, they protect us—somewhat—from the corona virus, but they’re uncomfortable to wear. They cut off airflow and hamper breathing. Carrying on a conversation while wearing them is difficult and reading lips is impossible.

Personally, I like seeing people smile and frequently fail to recognize folks—even good friends—when their faces are covered.

So what does mask wearing have to do with writing?

Remember internal conflict? That’s the fear or flaw or wound our characters have from the past that causes them to hide behind a…?

That’s right! 


Unmasking Our Characters

Since we’re up to our eyeballs in masks, quite literally, during this pandemic, I hope we’ve become more aware of our characters’ plight as they struggle with their imperfections. They worry someone will peer behind their false facades and see the truth they’re trying to hide. Regrettably, many of them have worn masks so long they’ve come to believe their faux identities represent who they truly are.

So what do we writers need to remember as we craft our stories?

First, we have to determine our hero’s wounds or flaws or fears.

Second, we need to identify the various ways he has learned to hide that of which he is most ashamed.

Third, we need to plot our stories to ensure the hero has the courage to remove his mask and embrace his true self. Only then is he able to achieve his external goal, declare his love for the heroine and embrace life to the full!

Unmasking Our Characters

My debut novel, Scared to Death, featured a single mom who was afraid of water. When the men who killed her husband try to kidnap her young son, she and the boy flee to her aunt’s house. Do you know where the aunt lives? Of course, you do because you’re writers. The aunt lives in a gated island community. In fact, the aunt’s house is a beachfront mansion so the heroine mom, in her attempt to protect her son, has placed herself near the water she fears. I won’t spoil the story for you, but rest assured, the mom has to take off the mask she’s been wearing, admit her fear and then confront it head-on to save her son.

In Amish Safe House, a cop’s wife and small daughter were killed by an escaped criminal he sent to prison. Feeling responsible for their deaths, he handed in his badge and returned to the Amish community he left long ago. The new reclusive life he has created is threatened when a law enforcement friend asks him to shelter a divorced woman and her two children on the run from one of the country’s most vicious gangs. The reason the hero wears a mask includes not only the guilt he carries after his loved ones’ deaths but also hurtful accusations by his authoritative father long ago that the hero has accepted as truth. When the gang closes in, the hero must ignore the memory of his father’s taunts and face his fear of not being able to protect the people he loves.

In Dangerous Amish Inheritance, my heroine sacrificed her own happiness ten years ago to care for her ailing father in hopes of making amends for a mistake she made in her youth. Misfortune haunted her until the beginning of the story when the father of her secret baby returns to Amish Mountain, but the hero carries his own guilt for leaving the woman he loved and the son, now nine years old, who instantly steals his heart. When danger closes in, the hero and heroine must remove their masks and move beyond their past mistakes to keep their son alive.

As you brainstorm your stories, remember to focus on your hero’s wound or flaw or fear. In so doing, you’ll create exciting and intriguing ways for your character to change and grow. Just remember that at the end of the story, the hero has to discard his mask and accept himself as he truly is so he and the heroine can live happily ever after.

Happy writing! Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti


Unmasking Our Characters

Amish Christmas Search

Oct 2020

An Amish girl’s disappearance is a mystery…

and the clues lead straight into danger at Christmas.

Convinced her friend didn’t run away as the police

believe, Lizzie Kauffman searches for the truth—but

someone will kill to keep it hidden. Now the Amish

housekeeper and her friend Caleb Zook are on the

run for their lives. And if they want to find their

missing friend, Lizzie and Caleb must figure out

a way to survive the holiday.

 Pre-order HERE!

Quirky People Make Quirky CharactersUnmasking Our Characters

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