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A Writer's List of Interesting Character Traits

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Writing is one of my several hobbies, and lists like the one below help me with writer's block every now and again.

Old man with bushy beard.

Old man with bushy beard.

A Character Traits List to Help Writers

Giving people distinct character traits, weird habits or quirky mannerisms is a great way for a storyteller to add more layers to any creation's backstory, which will make any type of story seem even more authentic.

If you are around anyone for any length of time, you quickly come to realize that everyone has little idiosyncrasies, gestures, and traits that, in a lot of cases, make them who they are. This is an element of reality that writers should always try to incorporate into the process of character creation. The list of useful traits below should give writers a jumping off point to come up with something useful.

When to Reveal Character

A flamboyant and colorful dresser.

A flamboyant and colorful dresser.

Funny Personality Quirks and Weird Habits

  • Being addicted to Caramello candy bars is a strange quirk, for sure.
  • Loves mopping floors (it's zen-like for them).
  • Keeps outside Christmas lights up all year and at times uses them to make their home easier to locate.
  • Always taking notes.
  • Has to have the most up-to-date technology.
  • Fascination with fire.
  • Flosses teeth in public.
  • Watches people live streaming on the Internet instead of regular TV shows or movies.
  • Huge fan of horror movies.
  • Dips french fries into mayonnaise instead of ketchup.
  • Sensitivity to bright light.
  • Driven by revenge and anger.
  • Doesn't like to wear shoes; would rather go barefoot.
  • Low talking often leads to funny situations, especially during times of stress.
  • Keeps an unlit cigar in their mouth most of the time.
  • Someone who has no ambition or goals in life.
  • Always takes more napkins than needed at fast-food restaurants.
  • A practical joker that always takes things way too far.
  • A woman who paints each fingernail a different color (toes, too); or all of them a very unique color that really stands out (glow in the dark?)
  • Someone with a dark sense of humor.
  • Having a limited vocabulary ("I am Groot.").
  • Wears an eye patch just to look cool.
  • Chews on the necks of shirts.
  • Someone who doesn't practice good hygiene.
  • Curses a lot and in very graphic ways.
  • Never tells the whole truth.
  • Blames others for their failures.
  • Smacks or swats instead of punching when in a fight.
  • Wears hoodies all the time.
  • Reluctant leaders either make really good leaders or really bad leaders.
  • Cries or tears easily.
  • Man with extremely long hair.
  • Shy around women.
  • Pants always tucked into boots.
  • Someone who has lots of power, but doesn't want the responsibility of it.
  • Never talks at AA meetings.
  • Can't hold down a job.
  • Stockpiles staple items like toilet paper, trash bags, and aluminum foil.
  • Quick to anger (and to pummel).
  • Likes to click their pen constantly.
  • Owns a motorcycle instead of a car.
  • Wears rims, but no prescription, which gives them the appearance of wearing glasses.
  • Doesn't like their name being on any kind of list.
  • Doesn't take anything seriously.
  • Very easily attracts static electricity.
  • Power hungry.
  • Wears the same type of shirt all the time.
  • Listens to Spanish songs, but doesn't understand the language.
  • A hairdresser that likes to purposely pull their customers' hair.

The Strongest Character Traits Can Help You Create Great Characters

More Really Cool Character Trait Examples

  • Has a weak handshake.
  • Wears a rubber band around their wrist (to snap).
  • Turned on by violence.
  • Loves puzzles.
  • Only eats sandwiches; a wide variety of sandwiches, but only sandwiches none the less.
  • Always hot.
  • Always cold.
  • Likes to make people feel uncomfortable.
  • Quick to honk the horn and scream when driving.
  • Likes to jump line.
  • Fantasizes about being a professional thief.
  • Likes attention.
  • Numb to the world around them.
  • Grew up dirt poor.
  • Uses unnecessarily long words to impress and confuse people.
  • Great sense of humor.
  • No sense of humor.
  • Missing a pinky toe on each foot.
  • Hard to understand.
  • Takes their time when eating.
  • Is a big fan of sardine sandwiches.
  • Would rather throw away food than eat it as leftovers the next day.
  • Likes to eat breakfast foods for dinner and vice-versa.
  • Has a lot of cats.
  • Pees while taking a shower.
  • Artist who can draw everything well except faces.
  • Chews gum all the time.
  • Sweats easily and in abundance.
  • Doesn't sweat.
  • Very memorable and unique laugh (snorts, wheezes, etc.).
  • Bad at lying.
  • Always needs to get the last word in when arguing with someone.
  • Repulsed by old clothes.
  • Everything they own they got at yard sales or flea markets.
  • Can't swim.
  • Never fights back or sticks up for themselves.
  • Soft-spoken.
  • Always has a notebook and pen.
  • Well-spoken.
  • Sniffs their nose all the time.
  • Sweaty palms.
  • Likes to watch people from afar using binoculars.
  • Talks really fast.
  • White trash and doesn't realize.
  • White trash and doesn't care.
  • Won't speak up.
Recognizable traits such as tattoos help identify characters.

Recognizable traits such as tattoos help identify characters.

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Words Used to Describe a Character

































































Good Character Traits Make Cool Movie Characters

Ways to Make Your Character Different

  • Look at something from different points of view. For example, looking at something from the point of view of a wealthy person instead of someone who is comfortable, but not wealthy will give you different opinions on a great many things.
  • If you can answer the question of what really drives and motivates your creation (and stay true to that), you will rarely have to think about what your character would do in certain situations.
  • Looking at something from different emotional states can also be an interesting way to come up with unique ideas for your characters. There are a lot of character quirks that are closely tied to people's emotions.
Physical traits such as hair length can make characters unique.

Physical traits such as hair length can make characters unique.

Cool Personality Traits That Really Stand Out

  • Puts water on cereal instead of milk.
  • Talking to all kinds of animals, even insects; sometimes just to say "hello".
  • Refuses to kill household pests.
  • Easy to impress.
  • Not so easy to impress.
  • Ambidextrous (the ability to use either hand equally well).
  • Out of shape.
  • Not afraid to say "no".
  • Types in all caps in chat rooms.
  • A collector of small things; it doesn't matter what kinds of things, just that they're small. I actually know someone like this and has whole cabinets full of tiny things; they don't even showcase or show off their collection in any way.
  • Bad dancer.
  • Constantly flirts with everyone.
  • Someone having to use the bathroom often can create so many funny moments in your story that it just has to be used.
  • Colorblind.
  • Does not forget... or forgive.
  • An old woman who can kick your butt at the Street Fighter video games (and she does victory celebrations).
  • Crossed eyes.
  • Snorting when laughing especially hard (as a result they try not to laugh).
  • Sings out loud.
  • Really smart in one particular area of expertise.
  • Hair twisting or twirling is often done due to insecurity according to some.
  • Very bad breath.
  • Finds women with foreign accents irresistible.
  • Has lots of debt.
  • Likes frozen Reece's Cups.
  • Extremely demanding of everyone in their lives, whether it be in the workplace or at home with friends and family.
  • Talking all the time.
  • Uses one finger to type on keyboard.
  • A real suck up to anyone with power, and isn't afraid to change their loyalty if they see an advantage.
Liking to work after midnight is more common than you might think.

Liking to work after midnight is more common than you might think.

Another List of Weird Habits To Make Your Characters More Unique

  • An avid reader of comic books that considers them on the same level as well-known literary novels.
  • Shaky hands (let's hope they're not a dentist).
  • Stroking or playing with hair all the time.
  • A person who wears broken watches because they like the way they it feels on their wrist.
  • Regular bowel movements every 6 hours.
  • Smells bad due to the fact that they rarely take a bath or shower.
  • A bad stutter when nervous or scared is a great way to introduce more chaos; would be especially useful in horror or action flicks.
  • A high school dropout.
  • Someone who sleeps naked because they get a better night's sleep.
  • Chewing on shirt collar.
  • Intimidating due to a physical trait such as height, beauty, etc.
  • Persuasive and charismatic.
  • Talking to themselves out loud where others can hear.
  • Smelling books (especially older ones).
  • Always being tired means slow reaction time.
  • Will not shake hands; likes to bow instead.
  • Bad memory.
  • Someone who has (and shares) lots of useless information.
  • Someone who likes the chest poke when arguing with someone.
  • No respect for authority.
  • Drives 20 mph slower than the posted speed limit.

Strong Character Traits That Will Make Your Hero (or Villain) Better

  • Adaptive: The ability to be flexible and changing one's mind whenever the situation changes is not a skill that everyone always embraces.
  • Persistence: Everyone loves characters who won't ever give up until they get what there after. It doesn't matter if they're a hero or a villain, weak or strong or smart or stupid; there's something about the trait of not giving up that resonates with everyone.

© 2019 Don

What unique traits would you give your character?

Marilyn McKay from North East, Victoria, Australia on June 14, 2019:

thanks for the lists,

you have some good ideas and ideas are always useful when setting up a story

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