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Swoon Author Maggie Ann Martin: Writing Character Quirks (Plus a Quiz!)

One of my favorite parts about starting a new project is finding out what makes a character tick, the things they are passionate about, the way they talk—all of the things that make them unique and interesting. I love adding weirdly specific detail in unexpected spots that make the reader laugh, whether that’s in dialogue or in descriptions.

One of my favorite scenes to explore this concept in The Big F was when Danielle is trying to find a 19th Century American Author to write a report about, and Porter jumps in to hold this “Choose Your 19th Century American Author” quiz as a guise to get to know her a little better and make her laugh. Here are bits and pieces of that scene.


Porter pulled out one of his notebooks from the back pocket of his jeans. “It’s just a matter of finding out who your nineteenth-century author alter ego is. I could put it in quiz form for you if you’d like.”

I rolled my eyes at him. Only he would find joy out of creating a quiz out of my main reason for stress—the one thing standing between me and getting into Ohio State. He wrote furiously in his notebook, his eyebrows furrowing as he thought. It was the most focused I’d ever seen him. Just imagine what he could get done if he focused on everything with that much intensity.

“Okay. So you’ll need to answer the following questions very seriously. I’m expecting a full level of dedication on this,” he said.

“Fully dedicated over here,” I said.

 “You order your dream pizza. What is the key ingredient that you love? A: pepperoni, B: mushrooms, C: pineapple, or D: sausage.”

“What does this have to do with a nineteenth-century American author?” I asked.

“It’s crucial. Most of their great fights were over the perfect pizza topping,” he said.

I scowled at him. “Fine. A. A classic choice.”

 “The results are in,” he said, holding his notebook dramatically like a talk show host. “My foolproof, Oprah-approved, Find Your Nineteenth-Century Author Alter Ego quiz has placed you with . . ."


Take the quiz below to find out who your 19th Century American Author Alter Ego is, and figure out who Danielle’s is in The Big F! Let me know who you got in the comments! 

Author spotlight

Maggie Ann Martin

Maggie Ann Martin hails from Iowa City, Iowa but moonlights as a New Yorker. She has a shiny new BA ...

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