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Some General Guidelines for Quirk Formation

Well, we’ve gotten quite a few asks about thinking up quirks for fantrolls recently, so I decided that I would just walk you guys through how I go about trying to make one up. We’ve got tests and methods to come up with lands and titles, so why not quirks? Be warned, beyond this read more is an ocean of tl;dr you should probably bring some kind of flotation device and maybe some rations.

Quirks are definitely one of the harder parts of a fantroll to come up with, you’ve got to express the troll’s voice and personality while also being original and finding something individual and stylized to their personal theme. AND THEN you have to figure out a way to express it in a short concise sentence. That’s no small task, so let’s start at the beginning.

The first thing I do is try and figure out if/how the troll would use capitalization. This is pretty straight forward, ornery/aggressive/bombastic trolls might want to go with ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME, or at least be PRONE TO BOUTS of capslock. Casual/laid-back/levelheaded trolls are most likely not going to bother with formalities, and finally studious/uptight/excessively polite trolls will probably Feel the need to properly express themselves. Of course you can keep it here and try to find a distinct capitalizing style for your troll and leave it at that, but with Clear Distinct Words, ANGER ALL THE TIME, RiDicUlOuS, and hESITANT taken all of the basic styles are pretty much off limits. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use any of those, it just means you probably need something else to spice up the quirk if you decide to go with that. For example I know of a female boxing troll who ==O ALWAYS PUNCHES HER WORDS FOR EMPHASIS. We’ll come back to prefixes later, but the point is that there’s nothing wrong with piggy backing off a canon style as long as it is still relates to your troll.

One thing I’ve run across a lot is that people are tempted to make trolls capitalize a certain set of letters. Like a troll that capitalizes the letters in UNO, or something like that. I would warn against this mainly because the quirk is supposed to help portray their personality in chatlogs. The only character that does this in canon is UU, and it helps emphasize her Briticisms, as well as fitting into her emote scheme. If you’re using it as just one component of a quirk, then you’re probably okay, but if it’s the only thing you’ve got going for your character you should probably reconsider.

Punctuation is also a pretty straight forward and easy process. Do they use it, or not? Excess punctuation can be used to express a certain trait, like excitability (!!!!!!), slow reaction time/seriousness/hesitation (…..), or wackiness/confusion by misusing it (..?.!1!). Punctuation is a good way to show how the character would actually speak, be it with short. clipped. statements. Vaguely questioning sort of tones? or long run-ons that keep going on, and on, and on, and on, and use commas from now until next Thursday.

Okay, now that the basic things are out of the way you need to work in your troll’s specific demeanor/interests. Some characters have a stutter, accent, or temperament that makes their quirk distinctive enough on its own (see Karkat, Kanaya, Eridan). Others you need to work at some more. This is where suffixes and prefixes can really come in handy.

This should probably be some simple object that you can make with letters/numbers/symbols that also relates to some interest or theme. You may be tempted to throw in fancy alt code symbols ♥ § ▒ Ü î and while that’s probably okay I would suggest against it. It’s heavily implied in canon that all the trolls type their quirks manually. Gamzee, Eridan, and Feferi all stop using their quirks at one point, and when Karkat and Terezi type using another troll’s trollian account they still use their personal quirk. So think about how annoying it would be to have to type in an alt code any time you wanted to write a certain letter. It’s impractical and besides you have plenty of options for creating symbols of your own. You’ve got straight lines in all directions | /\ -_ + T, wavy lines in some directions ~ ( ) { } S 3, and angles in a few as well < V > ^ v 7, not to mention a bunch of miscellaneous symbols @#$%!&*`”;?=. Shuffle these together in the right way, and you can get a lot of different useful shapes/pictures. If your picture turns out to only be one to three characters long, consider using it as a substitute for a letter that it resembles instead of a prefix.

Other than straight of prefixes you can [box words in] /make yourself smaller or protected\ (speak as an after thought) >_>be suspicious<_< or other things like that. Surrounding words is a great tool, and follows basically the same rules as prefix objects. Just think about what you are trying to show, then toss letters/numbers/symbols together until you get something you like.

Another area to consider is numbers substitutions. By commonly known leet speak 1=I 2=Z 3=E 4=A 5=S 6= G 7=T 8=B or ate, 9=P, and 0=O. Some of these “rules” can be bent a bit, as sometimes 2=s and 1=l and similar things like that. For the love of god do not use all of these at once. Pick a couple of letters that have some significance. Either the numbers can be special to the troll in question (Terezi, Vriska), or you can use it to indicate something in speech like a lisp or an accent (Sollux). Numbers make people read those letters with more emphasis or more harshly. For example, I have a cricket based troll who sp3aks w1th a b1t of a ch1rrp. I wanted hard EE and i noises to be emphasized, so I picked numbers that would play up on that, and then added a double r to once again emulate a cricket. 

Finally here’s a few indicators to see if you’re getting too complicated. First off, can you read it well enough? Again, write out a few sentences and read them aloud, seeing how much you stumble over words as you go. If it takes you an undue amount of time or you get confused/frustrated while reading it, go back to the drawing board. Secondly, how hard is it to write your troll’s quirk manually? If it’s difficult but not horrifying then that’s probably fine, but too having a too complicated quirk can cut into a character’s screen time if you find yourself reluctant to write their dialogue. Thirdly do you have an mspaint style single sentence explanation of the quirk, or do you still need to type out all the rules paragraph style? You should be able to demonstrate the quirk without ever having to explain the finer mechanics of how it works. Of course a quirk can be slightly more complicated than it appears, (Vriska’s distressed muddling of words with 8 as a vowel where it doesn’t belong, or the specific rules of Feferi’s -EXCIT—EM—ENT, and each character’s specialized smileys >:] :B ::::) 38D etc.) but on the whole it should appear to be only a few simple substitutes/additions.

Overall it’s important just to be creative! If you’re having trouble coming up with something take it one step at a time and don’t be afraid to futz around making silly emotes. If things don’t look exactly right you can always scrap it and try coming from another angle or playing up a different aspect of your troll. Have fun!

Congrats for getting through all that. Here’s a dancing Karkat as a reward.

~Jarjar

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