Quirky little quirks

People have quirks. Little habits that are unique or associated with them specifically. I’m not talking about good, bad or ugly habits, I mean actions or habits that are charming or interesting.

When I’m writing people and I’ve spent the time to develop their backstory, their behavior patterns and habits. I like to give each one or two, sometimes three, quirky habits.  These are key if you are attempting to develop a romantic interest. Quirks are often what the interested party find… well… interesting or alluring. That’s not to say a quirk has to be good, it can be annoying and even a bad habit. But for this I tend to keep it unique something that sets the character apart from others.

It is safe to say a quirk is not a common behavior like scratching ones chin or tapping a finger on a desk top. It is easy to build backstory into a quirk, maybe Valery sleeps with a teddy bear because she was left alone as a child when her mom would go out on dates, too cheap to hire a baby sitter.

Examples of quirks

Quoting movies, poetry, famous quotes or music.
Must pet and greet every dog he walks past
Says ‘hello’ to everyone no matter what.
Hates candy but loves gummy bears and only gummy bears
Jumpy/nervous
Always cold
Takes shoes off even at work(under desk)
Only likes redheads
Always has paper coffee cups on desk
Fanatic about vitamins
Has a specific diet
Deflects conversation from themselves back to others
Smiles shyly at compliments
Doodles during meetings or class
Picks the label off their beer
Clicks their pen when walking/talking
Always has gum, candy or mints available
Nostalgic
Wears too much perfume/cologne
Jiggles leg when sitting
Flirty
Bargain shopper or coupon-er
Always brings treats for coworkers
He crochets or knits
Has a different watch for every week or even day
Wears costume contacts everyday like cat eyes or fluorescent pink iris’s.
Bird-watches
Any phobia, the weirder the better . If you can work it into the main plot even better
Flipping, playing, or chewing hair
Smoking – this could be a bad habit too, but I mean the smokers quirks while they smoke, like do the flick the ashes in a peculiar way or let it hang from their lips. Perhaps they make a ‘puh’ sound with their lips after taking a drag. 

The point is any strange/uncommon/fun behavior can lead to entertaining conversation, is game.

The traffic wasn’t moving more than an inch a minute. Sasha wasn’t in a hurry anyway so cranked up the music and sang along dramatically.
By the time she got to the source of the jam, she realized her window was open a crack.The police officers were looking at her oddly as she belted out, off key to Christina Perry’s Human.
The tall one, the plain-clothes officer smiled crookedly at her. Cal.
“Of all people.” She muttered. Blushing, she turned the music down and made her way past the crime scene begging the cars to hurry up.

Valery tipped the watering can. “There you go, thirsty weren’t you?” She moved to the next, the orange mini rose. “Oh you’re doing well little fella, going to flower soon I see.”
“Cute. Do you name them too?”
Valery turned so fast she spilled water on the sill and floor of her office as Dale chuckled.

The waiting area was crowded and noisy. Sasha sat as small as possible, her legs held together and her hands on her lap. She gripped her handbag so hard her knuckles were white. There were people handcuffed to bars that looked ether pissed off or apathetic to their situation.
Detective Thorn came around the corner, saw her, smiled and gestured for her to follow him. Once in his office he closed the door. She sat again trying to appear as small as possible.
“So.” He began and paused seeing her distress. “Try to relax I don’t bite Sasha.” He clicked his pen a few times as she smiled weakly and glanced around the tidy, organized cramped space.
He tilted his head to the side. “So is it cops in general you have an issue with or just me?”
“Cops, both, since you’re a cop.” She swallowed and examined.
“I’m a Detective. But.” He grinned and sang, “I’m only human. I bleed when I fall down. ”
She gawked at him as her blood rushed up her neck to her face. After a full second of silence that followed his serenade, she laughed and relaxed her grip on her handbag.
“That’s better.” Cal said and smiled.
“Am I ever going to live that down Detective?”
Cal raised his eyebrows. “No way. Your automobile performance was the best part of that very crappy day.”

I may show Cal clicking his pen again or Sasha singing wildly when bored, maybe demonstrating her snobbery of the ‘criminals’ as she sat primly. Who knows but, a quirk or interesting behavior makes for better reading. In my opinion.

My advice about quirks.
Look around and watch people, see what they do how they talk or what they talk about. What are their passions or hobbies? Think outside the typical habits when writing.

-Sheryl

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Smoke
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Ghosts that write stories

Ghosts that write stories

When people think of ghosts, they think of apparitions or the spirit of the dead. They possibly they conjure the image of something slight that floats around haunting or interfering with life.

The verb ghostwriting means to write on behalf of another. Doesn’t that make us all ghostwriters in a way? We write on behalf of the characters in our creations. We control every aspect of everyone and everything. From the colour of their eyes to whether or not they pick their noses. From the colour of the carpet to the rain that suddenly falls and soaks their new suit before an interview.

I decide if the people I invent are happy, sad, angry or in love. I choose if they are nice, mean or selfish people. It’s partly why I (maybe even other writers) love to write; to control the entirety of the world just created and it’s a lot of power and responsibility.

Yesterday I saw a fellow blogger post a graph. One similar to the one I use to chart out my characters and their progression. Alongside that, I have an excel sheet for each character with every possible thing about them on it. Including things not ever mentioned in the book. This way Joe’s eyes are always ice blue and I can look back to see why he’s secretly angry at women in general and mean to them on the sly. His entire history is there from when his father died from an overdose of heroin to when his mother started yelling at the dog that never existed.

Keeping track is extremely important. People need to have quirks, bad habits, sayings overused and speaking and behaviour patterns. I have many characters, some minor, some major and others only appear to sweep a floor. They all have bios and backgrounds. That way when the Data collection officer is overly friendly and speaks in honeyed tones to the new woman. I know it’s because he’s been passed up for promotion six times, and is now outranked by said woman who is half his age and only been with the company for three months. Is that important to spell out in the book? No. However, if I want to use this later on as part of a plot turn then I need to make sure he’s always overly friendly to her and perhaps she or someone else catches a glimpse of pure unadulterated hatred in his eyes as she walks away.

My advice.
Whether you put an actual ghost in your story or not, keep track. You don’t have to use a graph, chart or the excel program. (I love spreadsheets for some weird reason) You can use a word document, or a notebook or even stick them up on your wall in flowchart form. Whatever you do remember they depend on you not to magically change their height or their dog’s name.

Every story ever written and every character created has a Ghost . We are that ghost to them.

-Sheryl

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