Ugly habits. I generally think of these as social habits, quirks and ticks. The kind that make someone ugly inside and out. Not like putting the empty milk container back or leaving the toilet roll empty for the next person to deal with. I mean the things that make someone seem just a little more rotten than the next. When I talk about ugly people I am not talking about physical looks but what’s inside. The hottest person can be hideous on the inside. (We all are if you take that literally, blood guts and organs. Blech)
Like good habits and bad, Ugly ones can give characters one more valuable layer to the complex network of attributes that make a person human. Everyone has an ugly habit to some degree. Whether they instigate, perpetuate or stand by and do or say nothing. Ugly habits can start simple and evolve quickly to a subconscious action.
- Gossip/spreading rumors
- Snide looks of disapproval (Generally scoffing the quality/value of someones attire)
- Self-serving behavior
- Blaming others or setting others up
- Put downs, insults and barbed comments
- Over-talking others (Speaking over someone stealing their moment or putting them in the background)
- Talking down to others
- Hiding or stealing small items to cause inconvenience
Creating ugly people is fun, they cause trouble, but in the background. They can inspire others to be like them and teach them the habits of tearing others down. Ugly people can spur change for the good two. One step too far and the protagonist will push back or beat the ugly at their own game. There always seems to be the one, the ringleader that inspires the others to be nasty or maybe they fly solo and make everyone miserable.
Holding her laptop bag in one hand and briefcase in the other Sasha approached the trio around Scott’s desk. They stopped talking, the guilty ‘we were just talking about you’ looks unmistakable. Scott gave her his customary once over and smiled in his cocky flirty manner. She didn’t blush, not this time.
“Good morning Scott, Dale, Amber.” Sasha nodded as she approached.
Dale bit his lips as if stifling a laugh. She never noticed the derision before, she had only noticed Scott’s flattering and distracting leer. She was too focused on the presentation this afternoon to be affected by it.
Amber smiled too brightly. “Don’t you have a meeting with Getty Shoes today?”
“I do and I need to go prepare.” Sasha furrowed her brow when Amber smirked and raised her eyebrow.
Shaking her head Sasha continued on to her office Sasha had to prepare and didn’t have time for Amber’s games today. The Getty account was potentially a big one and she was nervous. Amber had wanted this one and had been snippy that she didn’t put her on the team. Amber was the office easy and jumped into bed with anyone that could benefit her position. Or so the rumors went. Sasha hated rumors so ignored them, even if Ambers flirting was over the top more often than not.
With everything ready, Sasha double-checked everything as the department head, Alexander Mozar, entered.
“Mr. Mozar.” Sasha was surprised to see him. “How may I help you?”
He looked her over and lingered on her feet. “I don’t think you should present today.”
“What? Why not?” Sasha set her notes down absent-mindedly.
“An alternate design was brought to my attention, as was the suspicion that you were not taking this account seriously.”
Her mouth fell open. Alternate design? The pieces were moving into place.
“I don’t understand sir.”
“Do you own a pair of Getty shoes Sasha?”
“I… Ah…” She looked down at her feet. What did it matter? She thought back to earlier that week as she prepped the layouts. Amber had gushed over her Dahlia shoes she wore. They cost a mint even on sale and she rarely wore them. ‘Oh Sasha you should wear those next time you present, they make you look strong, powerful and sexy. A sure fire winning combo if you ask me.’ Then yesterday. ‘If I were you, I’d dress to impress tomorrow.’ All week had been small comments from her and from Scott. Small comments, subtle moves.
Without even thinking, she wore the Dahlia shoes. She was a pawn.
“Sasha, Dahlia is owned by Banes & Co. who are Getty’s biggest competitor. Do you have a change?” Checkmate. “No sir.” He shook his head slowly. “Scott and Amber will take over the presentation. Give them your notes and fill them in. They will present your idea and Scott’s. The client can decide. Waste not want not.” He opened the door and waived them in. “Next time Sasha do your research.”
Both Scott and Amber sported Getty brand shoes and smarmy little grins. Scott was too impressionable to be so sneaky. She underestimated Amber’s determination. A costly oversight. Sasha handed over the notes, gave them the rundown and left with her feelings hurt, fury bubbling and her head held high. The snickers behind her nearly shattered her fractured pride. She wanted nothing more than to stick her head underground like a cartoon ostrich.
Small or large the impact of devious ugly behavior can really muddle things up. I love adding the type of people that frustrate the reader just a little. “Ugh that person needs to go down!” so eventually when Sasha does indeed rise above, get her bearing and her backbone in place she can indeed take Amber Down. The “Yay!” moment will come eventually. Sasha’s a mess and has a long way to go yet.
The ugly’s make for great side stories and interactions. They are the impactful ones and the ones you want to strangle, but they usually aren’t the main villains of the story. Ugly not pure evil.
My advice about ugly people.
Write them like you want to punch the living daylights out of them. As if they are the most frustrating people on the planet because they always get their way. Until the eventually don’t. Give them lots of rope to hang themselves and have fun bringing them down. *Insert evil laugh of triumph*
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