Don't just generate a list of quirks. Create the character, fully map out personality, hopes, dreams, desires, true intentions, hates, pet peeves, etc. and then generate a list of things someone with those traits would do. What would an egotistical person do? What would a self conscious person do? What would an anxious person do?
For paranoia: - little arguments over who gets which seat. The paranoid one always wants the one facing the whole room - won't go into dark places alone, or tends to make a lot of noise if they have to do so
For making better characters: - If all your characters are coming out depressive or paranoid, go grab yourself a nubbly blanket and a warm drink - Go out and meet interesting people to base your characters off of
Interesting forum But I am not sure I can contribute with much... Hmm... How about a person who always stands really close to people he talks to because he won't admit that his eye-sight is beginning to worsen. Only it makes people think he is creepy.
I actually have one trait which one of my friends think is quite irritating and that is when I read signs or shop names or such I say it aloud. I am not quite sure why I do it and it is not every sign I see but if it is something you want to use for a character, feel free to do it
If I find the character development needs a nudge, I pop open my copy of Please Understand Me by Keirsey & Bates. You need not subscribe to their Jungian temperament sorting system to find it convenient for adding perspective. Is your character introverted? Extroverted? In between? Do they tend to be in the moment or outside, observing? And so on. The book suggests a raft of traits that supposedly go together, and while you need not slavishly follow this model, you can use it to help you concoct a thorough profile of the character, not overlooking the composite elements of their nature.
One quirk my main character has is that whenever she's upset, her go-to comfort position is pulling her knees up to her chest and burying her face. She also has a sort of childish nature that is often obvious in the way she confronts things
My other main character has these "piercing blue eyes" that the first main character refers to frequently and his hair always flops in his eyes. He also has a very protective nature and often takes things personally. He has a big heart like that
So these 'quirks' will be like foreshadowing or something? I love stuff like that, but never use them ~ It's fun thou when you read things and in the end you go "I should have known" as you remember the details ;3
Always setting the table with steak knives could work well with a need to always have the back against the wall while talking to someone, or allways get a seat next to the exit in the restaurant/cinema/bar/bus ;3 Not nowing what you're trying to hint at makes it hard to come up with anything else right now
The only thing I can think of is something I used in one of my favorite works:
As a family rule, you always say goodbye to one another, unless you're mad at them.
For instance, after the leading character's uncle discovers she's refusing to give her mother the bone marrow she needs to save her life, he refuses to say goodbye to her when she leaves. She's deeply hurt by this, and she knows that she must explain why she's doing this (her mother did some unforgivable things to her).
Another language-based quirk from the same piece:
The leading female never says "Ma'am", only "Madam."
I don't really know why she does this, but the best explanation would be that her family's servants raised her, so she picked up more of their language than the language of the area, where "Ma'am" is the common term. The butler, her main caregiver, says "Madam," so maybe she got it from him.