The Dimension of a Good Character

As it sometimes does, a link on Facebook lured me to click something about making your bed each morning after you've exited, of course. Sometimes, I can guess which way comments will lean on these, umm, important issues, but this time I wasn’t sure.

As you might imagine the comments stomped loudly on both sides.

People stated there are mental health reasons for both making and not making your bed. Not making it meant freedom from rules. Making your bed meant…well… freedom from chaos. Then there were people who believed that making one’s bed spoke of good character in a person vs. not good. Then there was the physical health of it, where leaving a bed unmade is healthier since it allows the bedding to “air out” in between uses.  Other people sort of used it as a mood ring. IF they made their bed, those people enjoyed a good mood all day. IF they did not make their bed, they felt terrible. 

To each his own, I suppose. After all, people are individuals. 

This made me think about characters in books, on TV and in movies, the dimension of a good character. The characters we create should be individuals with their own quirks and individuality with good and bad habits that get in their way. Adding dimension to our characters allows them to be identifiable and adds complications to the storyline. 

Readers like that.

A great example of a complex character is Adrian Monk from the now defunct TV show Monk. Adrian Monk obsessed over everything in his personal life and his work life as a detective. Often his idiosyncrasies got in the way of his crime solving, but he always got his man (or woman). 

Characters need to be interesting. Now, go make your bed.

Do you make your bed after leaving it?  Do you like to read about characters that have quirks? Writers, where do you start in shaping your character into a real--fictional character?


  1. Characters do indeed need to be interesting. And real. Which means quirky. And sometimes inconsistent. And conflicted. Like me, And you. And almost everyone.
    Sometimes I make the bed. Not today. Tomorrow. Probably.

  2. I love quirky characters! Now I need to reflect which of my characters makes a bed after leaving it. :) I'm a bed-maker, for sure.

    I cheat by using traits of people I know and crafting them into characters, using a mishmash.

    Have a happy week!

  3. I've always made my bed. As far back as I can remember. I was one of those kids that didn't need to be told to clean their room. I was much more like Monk in those days....I couldn't even turn off my light until I did a quick scan around the room to make sure my records were put away, and my school books were stacked neatly on my desk for the next morning. Now I just make the bed.

  4. Quirky characters are the best. They reminds of people we know (and probably ourselves if we'd admit it). As for making the bed, lately I tend to make it every morning. I read somewhere that making the bed is supposed to help you be more organized for the day and boy do I need all the help I can get. BTW, it hasn't helped much yet (still hoping). :)

  5. I make it before I get in it at night... you heard me... I leave it unmade all day... can't be bothered. But if I don't make it before I get in then the blankets are hopelessly in the wrong place for sleeping. I love Monk. But I also am a person deeply convinced that concern about appearances is a deep character flaw... um... (my cozy mystery series had best friends of opposite extremes this way--Cam was OCD and Annie was chaos personified)

  6. Monk was great, love that show. I make it when I roll out, it's a matter of taking ten seconds to pull the sheets back up where I was sleeping, woweee tough job lol

  7. Hi Teresa - I make my bed ... but I love my characters - rogueish .. but always helpful in a kind of convoluted way! I enjoy detective series ... cheers Hilary

  8. The bed thing would make for a good quirk.
    We make the bed. I can't stand seeing it messy.

  9. I make the bed cause it just looks better.

    Do you have a scary story lined up for the contest Alex mentioned?

  10. The bed has to be made. It makes my room look neater.

  11. Adrian Monk was one quirky character, and he's stayed with me long after the series ended. Guess that's the sign of good characterization. I do make my bed. There's something about slipping into smooth sheets that I like.

  12. When I teach my writing classes, one of the character traits I have kids think about is quirks and aversions. They also learn the meaning of those words! Love Monk. He's a great example. Yes, we need to know their personality. Bed maker, or not. Boxers or briefs. Favorite pair of shoes. All give us a good picture of them.
    I usually make my bed. Sometimes, I don't. It's a mood thing. Or, if the other person gets up later. I think the last person out of the bed should be the one who makes it.

  13. I can't say I make my bed. Then again I leave so early for work that my wife is still sleeping when I go. I don't think she's appreciate me making the bed with her still in it. :)

  14. Wonderful post, Teresa! I'm laughing over the bed-making debate! We always had to make our beds when we were kids! Now some of us do and some of us don't. We were taught always to pull back the covers to air our beds, and then go back and make them later ~ unless we were time crunched. To this day, I air my bed and make it after breakfast.

    I like characters to feel real, so I enjoy those with idiosyncrasies. I hate stereotypical characters, and I like even the minor ones to be well-developed characters.

    As for my writing. Landscapes speak to me first, weird I know, and my characters emerge out of the settings. I guess I lived in such wild areas growing up that landscapes had a profound impact on who you were!

    Happy weekend!

  15. What a great example of how we all have our quirks so characters need them too! Yes, I make my bed everyday because in 200 square feet of living if I don't my whole RV looks like a tornado. And so I submit to the need for order.

    BTW..I adore monk. He makes me feel normal :)

  16. I was just recently talking about this same subject. I suppose I do have a bit of a bed making quirk. I don't make my bed immediately after getting up but I do have to make it before I have my breakfast and start my day. I'm single, live alone and no one ever sees that part of my house. Reality is, with the exception of straightening the covers and pillows, it almost ridiculous that I even take the trouble to make it.


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