1. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    Need to give fisherman a personality quirk?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GoldenFeather, Apr 2, 2013.

    My character is a fisherman who owns a fishmarket. I need to give him a personality trait, or something else, to make him more interesting especially in a dangerous environment.

    For instance, I was reading a James Rollins novel the other day, and one of his characters suffers from seizures. This is a very interesting characteristic because it can happen at any time and can move the story forward or create suspense.

    I was thinking something similar for the fisherman, like that he can't swim (although this is unlikely) or that he has a phobia of a certain common animal etc.

    Any ideas? Thanks so much!
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    An allergy to shell fish? If remnants of a shrimp are in a caught fish's mouth, or a small shrimp mixed in with a batch of fish he gets exposed and has trouble breathing. :)


    That would be a physical quirk rather than a personality quirk, I think that's what you meant though.
     
  3. Quille
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    Quille Senior Member

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    I think it depends on how intense you want the quirk to be. Seizures sound like they'd have an impact on the plot. If I'm writing something set in current time, I quite often have the character push their glasses up their nose. I usually include some reference to music, which is timeless, so could have a character humming under their breath.
     
  4. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    Golden Feather: I have a suggestion maybe the fisherman uses the same knife to clean every fish he catches and this knife is very special to him and some of his fellow fisherman think he is a an oddball because of his attachment to this knife.
     
  5. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    Maybe he can't stand looking into the eyes of fish. That way he's always awkward around them. He really wants to retire soon, so he fishes really vigourusly.
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    He has a collection of things he found in the stomachs of fishes. - keys, coins - weird stuff.
     
  7. gwilson
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    gwilson Member

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    How about:

    a fishhook piercing through his eyebrow

    sun bleached hair, leathery sun burned arms

    an astigmatism, like a fish eye

    a peg leg (-just joking, arg!)

    a Breton cap, or baseball cap, or wool cap - either with lures

    he says, "...you feel me." or some other dialogue tag, (or is it dialog? still haven't figured that one out)

    he has a breathalyzer on his boat 'cause he got liquored up once too often
     
  8. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    He picks his teeth with a fish bone.
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Give him one of yours'.

    Incidentally, I don't categorize a seizure disorder as a personality trait. That would be a medical condition, and a relatively unique issue that the character has to deal with, but it's not really a part of his personality.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    He's a fisherman. That's enough of a basis for individuality.

    I'm not being snide toward fishermen. I've cast a line in the morning mist from time to time myself. But to many readers, a fisherman is a relic of another time and place, so building on the sport (or the business) is plenty to expose readers to something outside their experience.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's been said by others in this forum several times in other threads, but it bears repeating here: You can't make a character interesting just by giving him a "quirk." A quirk is not a personality. Quille mentioned above having the character keep pushing his glasses up his nose. To even make that a quirk, you'd have to keep mentioning it all the time, and the readers would get awfully tired of it. Besides, nobody would remember the fisherman's actual personality. "Fisherman? Who was he again?" "He was the one who kept pushing his glasses up his nose." "Oh, yeah. I hated him. Why didn't he just wear contacts?"

    Remember that Godzilla movie directed by Roland Emmerich in the late '90s? Jean Reno played some kind of French agent in the USA trying to stop Godzilla. He had no personality, so the writers just gave him a quirk: he kept complaining about not being able to get a good cup of coffee. I literally can't remember anything about him at all, other than that. "Which one was he?" "He was the one who always complained about the coffee." "Oh yeah - he made no impression at all."

    Don't think of characters as just a quirk, or a collection of traits. Is that how you want readers to remember your fisherman? Just that he was the guy with that quirk? I hope not.
     
  12. Quille
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    Quille Senior Member

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    I agree that a 'quirk' by itself does not create personality, however, it can be a stitch in the embroidery that goes into making a character three-dimensional on the page.
     
  13. GreasyLocks
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    GreasyLocks Member

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    smaller fish.... and smaller fish inside those fish... and then he finds himself in an endless Russian doll situation due to his compulsion to collect, which turns to madness, and the plot never resolves

    mind blow


    serious:

    he could be terrified of some sort of sea monster and have nightmares/traumatic hallucinations
    or something like mermaids, something that would cause him to feel like he could be mocked
     
  14. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Cogito and Minstrel speak the truth! A character is who he/she is. The best traits to give a character are the ones he's envisioned with and then the ones they develop themselves as the manifest into a sort of conscious reality. If the character is a fisherman and has nothing interesting about him, why write about him. The fact that you are telling the story about him should make him worth reading about. The quirks do not make the characters, but their personalities, their choices, their reactions to situations and the impact of their reactions on the story. If he must have a quirk to make him more interesting, it should be something that may gain importance in the story, like a fear of falling into water, or a quest to find the perfect catch, or a tendency to get lost in day dreams when he should be working/fishing. There are characters who are only quirks and there are those who are important; The Hunger Games are a great example. The stylist were characterized by their quirky behavior, initially, but they are important to us because of their hearts and actions, especially towards the end of the series.
     
  15. summerrain
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    summerrain Member

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    Maybe the ability to converse, (only when alone), to a strange and exotic creature or spirit in the sea/ocean/lake, that he befriends, when it shows itself as the fisherman fishes.
     

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