107 Character Mannerisms For Writers

The best characters show rather than tell the kinds of people they are. 

That’s where character mannerisms come in; they connect storytelling imagery and actions to each character, often without the need for extra dialogue. 

Each character’s mannerisms can be a mix of expected and surprising elements.

The purpose of the list below is to get you thinking of ways to make your characters more real and more interesting to your readers. 

Let’s dive in!

(Side note: If you want the peace of mind that you’re publishing with good grammar and punctuation, then check out the free Grammarly proofreading tool.)

107 Character Mannerisms for Writers 

Read carefully through the following list of mannerisms to find the ones best suited to each of your story characters.

Make a note of the ones you can most clearly picture. 

Characters Who Are In Love

1. Fearless PDA (public displays of affection)

2. Smiling all the time

character mannerisms

3. Whispering into their beloved’s ear

4. Fluttering their eyelids and blushing a lot

5. Constantly checking their phone and obsessing over every text

6. Losing their appetite and ability to sleep 

7. Twirling/playing with their hair absent-mindedly while talking to their beloved

8. Deliberately playing and enjoying sappy love songs 

9. Oblivious to everyone except their beloved

10. Stuttering or faltering a bit in response to their love interest

Characters Who Are Lying or Hiding Something

11. Frequent blinking 

12. Avoiding eye contact

13. Looking to the left often

14. Offering unnecessary and oddly-specific details

15. Sweating a lot

16. Changing their tone of voice in odd ways

17. Pausing while speaking (to invent details or gauge the listener’s response)

18. Using evasive or mismatched body language

Characters Who Are Anxious, Angry, or Scared

19. Clenching the jaw

20. Crossing arms defensively

21. Chewing on the lip

22. Swallowing constantly 

23. Compulsively scratching their nose or the nape of their neck

24. Chewing on fingernails, pencils, etc. 

25. Chain-smoking

26. Clasping hands behind the back

27. Pacing back and forth

28. Flexing fingers 

29. Cracking knuckles

30. Flaring nostrils

31. Darting eyes

Confident or Brash Characters

32. Maintaining calm eye contact

33. Walking with erect posture, poise, and purpose

34. Standing with feet apart and looking straight ahead

35. Interrupting others when passionate about a specific topic

36. Wearing bright-colored lipstick (red, pink, coral, etc.) 

37. Wearing loud, vivid colors, patterns, and styles

38. Clasping hands behind the head

39. Remaining sober at parties (no need for “liquid courage”)

40. Standing out from a crowd

Characters Who Are Sky or Lacking in Confidence

41. Slouching often

42. Looking down when walking

43. Wearing hats or hoodies with the hood often up

44. Finding it difficult to maintain eye contact

45. Apologizing often and for everything

46. Wearing headphones a lot to avoid interacting with others

47. Wearing dark or muted colors 

48. Hugging arms around themselves

49. Avoiding their reflection.

50. Keeping their hands in their pockets while sitting or walking

51. Preferring to stand rather than to sit next to strangers

52. Mumbling or speaking softly

53. Laughing to fill awkward silences

Bored Characters

54, Yawning frequently

55. Fidgeting with hair, clothing, or jewelry

56. Rolling their eyes

57. Tapping their fingernails on a surface

58. Staring off into the distance

59. Clasping together and unclasping their fingers

60. Doodling absentmindedly

61. Twiddling their thumbs

62. Resting their head in their hands

Characters Who Are Funny or Who Enjoy Humor

63. Wearing multiple pins with quirky messages

64. Telling jokes to whoever will listen

65. Grinning sideways or smirking

66. Laughing a lot / finding humor in much of what they experience

67. Makes light of serious things

68. Dresses in wildly inappropriate attire 

Narcissistic, Arrogant, or Elitist Characters

69. Constantly checking themselves out in reflective surfaces

70. Loudly pointing out faults in others

71. Uses dismissive body language toward others

72. Spends a LOT of time on personal grooming (hair, make-up, nails, etc.)

73. Wears only the best and trendiest brands and styles of clothing, shoes, etc.

74. Treats waitstaff or service staff disrespectfully or disdainfully 

75. Leaves their messes for others to clean up

Stern or Uptight Characters

76. Wears their hair in a tight bun or immaculately slicked back

77. Often furrows their brow

78. Pinches their lips together 

79. Has perfected the stern glare of disapproval (and uses it often)

80. Crosses legs while sitting with a stiff or prim posture 

81. Smiles only rarely and with reserve—and often at least a sliver of contempt

82. Stands with hands on their hips (power pose) 

83. Looks down their nose at anyone who manifests human frailty


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Scholarly, Educated, or Erudite Characters

84. Frequently quoting famous people and literary works

85. Over-enunciates their words

86. Takes glasses off and cleans them

87. Speaks multiple languages 

88. Uses phrases like, “Did you know that…?”

89. Imitates the clothing choices and mannerisms of scholars they admire

90. Often expounding on the state of the world today 

Focused, Organized, or Tidy Characters

91. Tilts head to the side when listening 

92. Moves quickly from one task to the next

93. Steeples their hands when in thought

94. Wears perfectly-coordinated outfits

95. Making multiple to-do lists and checking off items one by one

96. Frequently restoring objects to their proper places 

Unfocused, Disorganized, or Sloppy Characters

97. Always arriving late and losing track of time

98. Often looking disheveled or as if they skipped personal hygiene

99. Wears mismatched, wrinkled, and/or stained clothing

100. Scrambles around frantically for lost or misplaced objects

101. Often distracted and losing focus on their given task

102. Eats noisily and with their mouth at least partly open 

Frustrated, Judgmental, or Impatient Characters

103. Tutting or making a “tsk” noise at others

104. Clenching their fist when things don’t go according to plan

105. Exhaling sharply or breathing loudly enough for others to hear

106. Putting fingers to forehead or bridge of the nose while shaking their head

107. Saying “Ha!” with a sarcastic tone. 

FAQs about Character Mannerisms 

First of all, let’s tackle some of the biggest questions that arise whenever writers and readers discuss character mannerisms. 

What are examples of mannerisms?

As you see from the 107 examples of mannerisms listed above, we’re talking about visible manifestations of character traits and emotions. 

Listing all of them would be impossible, so we’re counting on your fertile imagination and memory to take our list and add to it with ideas of your own. 

Use what you know to build upon what you read here.

What are common mannerisms?

Common mannerisms are the ones that come to mind most quickly when you hear a brief description of a character’s defining traits or what they’re feeling in a particular moment. 

Consider the following examples: 

  • Snobbish character → pointing out cheap or low-quality brands worn by another
  • Fearful character → securing a set of door locks more than once and then checking windows and dark corners before using the (much-needed) bathroom 
  • Loner character → quickly and quietly leaving work and avoiding eye contact while coworkers swarm together to discuss a workplace social event

How do you describe character mannerisms?

Simply picture the character behaving in a way consistent with their given traits or emotions. Then use your imagination to add something that sets them apart from others who might share those traits or emotions. 

If you can imagine your character acting in a certain way, try describing their behavior in clear, simple, and elegant language. Don’t expect your wording to be perfect right from the start. Write anything that comes to mind. 

Then refine it to make it clearer and distill it to its essence. 

Now that we’ve armed you with this list of 107 examples of character mannerisms, which are you most likely to use with the characters in your current work in progress?

And which mannerisms do you see in yourself and the people closest to you? 

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