What Is “Quirky”?

Today I worked on two blog posts before starting this one, but they were both on pretty serious subjects and, honestly, I have enough of a cold that they not only were getting me down, I simply couldn’t do them justice. And then the idea for this post popped into my head…

Not long into my novel writing career, I discovered I needed a tagline to describe my writing and express my brand. (What a “brand” is is a far more complicated topic, one I don’t want to tackle today.)  Since my first two published books were for young adults (teens), I started out with “Young Adult Christian fiction rippling with laughter, tears, & YES! moments.” I thought that was pretty accurate.

What it wasn’t was easy to remember. In fact, I had to go look for an old business card a minute ago because I couldn’t remember it now.

But there was another problem. Although none of my novels for adults had yet been published, I thought I should not only have something easier to remember (how I envy Brandilyn Collins’ “Seatbelt Suspense,” a tagline so special she actually registered it as hers), but also something that would work for both teen and adult books.

I thought coming up with the original tagline was challenging? Thinking of something unique that used only three or four words proved nearly impossible.

I couldn’t tell you how many words and combinations I tried before coming up with “Quirky inspirational fiction.” Fiction because I wanted readers to know that’s all I write (blog posts being the exception). Inspirational to assure readers that my writing is clean and positive; I opted against using Christian because I didn’t want to scare any potential readers off. Better to let them discover that inspirational means Christian while they’re enjoying my books.

But quirky? I frequently refer to WordWeb on my computer, and it defines quirky as “strikingly unconventional.” That’s good. But one of the synonyms is “kinky.” Not so good.

So why not whimsical? Whimsical implied humor, or at least I thought it did, and I believed it accurately described my books. But quirky was more descriptive.  After all, kinky was only one of the synonyms, and combining it with inspirational lessened the likelihood anyone would expect a kinky novel. So I stuck with quirky.

I was talking to several prospective agents at a writers conference last year, and doggone if both of them didn’t ask me to describe quirky. Well, I didn’t have a dictionary on me and I’m sure I bumbled my way through that answer somehow. Looking back, I assume I tried to differentiate between whimsical and quirky, but I have no idea what I told them.

Things worked out okay, though. I didn’t end up with either of them as an agent. Good thing. Why would I want an agent who doesn’t know what quirky means?

What do you think? About this or anything. And before you leave a comment, would you please pass the Kleenex? *G*

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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6 thoughts on “What Is “Quirky”?

    • Thanks, Tammy. I agree. But you might want to look at Tom’s comment. I’ll be responding to him a little later, but I’ll be telling him he’s judging my tagline on the basis of having read one novel and some shorter writings.

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  1. As far as I’m concerned your writing is anything but quirky. I think of oddballs as quirky. Your work is not oddballish.

    The US Supreme Court uses the Merriam-Webster unabridged dictionary as their first source when trying to define a word because of its exactness in defining American style English. I like to use it too. Here’s a list of synonyms given by that great book: ”Synonyms: crotchet, curiosity, eccentricity, erraticism, individualism, kink, mannerism, oddity, peculiarity, quiddity, quip, idiosyncrasy, singularity, tic, trick, twist”

    While I find some of your writing curious none of it is peculiar, odd, kinky, eccentric. Here we go with another dose of what I view as the misuse of words. Quirky is the girl who comes into the restaurant and asks for mayonnaise on her eggs or the kid who likes to go to the fountain and put a bit of every different drink in his cup. Very quirky.

    You, on the other hand, are a very measured, exact writer. Your topics are not unusual. Nothing shocking or weird about it. Your style bespeaks of a man in control of his pen, someone who understands the nuts and bolts of the English language and does not abuse it. Nope. Nothing quirky there either.

    I’d have to say you’re a serious writer with a fun, relaxed outlook on life. Someone who doesn’t tread out of bounds, nothing scandalous, nothing shocking or upsetting. A clean writer who enjoys making eye-contact with his readers on a human level. Anything but quirky. I’ve always felt that other moniker was holding you back.

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  2. You know what, Tom? You’re assessing my tagline on the basis of one novel, some shorter writings, and my blog posts. Would you believe The Devil and Pastor Gus is about as atypical of my novels as it could be? (Even so, I believe it contains quirky elements.) But what would you say about a novel where certain chapters are told from the point of view of either of two cats? Or one where two teens committed to chastity before marriage pretend that she’s pregnant to try to heal the riff between their two fathers? It’s a bit of a modern day Romeo and Juliet, but without any dead bodies on the stage at the end.

    As much as I appreciate your description of my writing–I need to find someplace to quote you–“Inspirational quirky fiction” is not a line intended to limit me, but to describe what I think is most typical of my books in general. (Remember that I have nine unpublished novels and only three published ones.) The idea is that readers familiar with my books can look at a new one and know what to expect in a general kind of way.

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