Tag Archives: Character traits. character mannerisms

I have no voice…literally and metaphorically

Since last week I’ve been aphonic. For those of you who didn’t go to nursing school like me, that means, I have no voice. Allergy season is in full force here in New England and the pollen, rain, mold, moss ratios are uber-high, so when that happens and my allergies go “Yippie!” the polyps I have on my vocal cords swell, resulting in a very quiet Jaeger household. Hubby is pretty decent at reading lips, but I’ve become a real hermit this past week because leaving the house without a voice is difficult if you need to interact with people vocally. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve been aphonic. Several years ago my ENT doc put me on voice rest for 2 months because the polyps were gigantor and he wanted to give them a rest. Have you got any idea what it’s like for a girl who loves to talk not to be able to?? Torture is too tame a word.

Anyhoo….

This past week, and like with every event in my life, I started thinking about how I could use this aphonia, or some aspect of it, in my writing.

How would you help a person who can’t speak, communicate?

What tools would you give them ( if any) in order for them to go about their lives?

Would a character like this be sympathetic? ( In reality, I’m not a sympathetic character, so this one stumps me.)

What kind of love interest would be willing to become involved with someone who can never SAY Iove you?

This is where the show, don’t tell part of writing would be strong, because I would need the character to continually be in movement, trying to get their point across, because they couldn’t say what they wanted to say.

Can you see how difficult, challenging, and thought provoking an aphonic character would be to write?
Kinda like my life right now: difficult, challenging and thought provoking.

Oh, and for those people who think they will be helpful and write to me telling me I can have surgery or laser removal of my  polyps, know this: it isn’t a possibility for me. I would lose my vocal chords completely due to the size and scope of the polyps, so, no. I can tolerate a few days or weeks without a voice.But  the next 40-50 years. yeah, not so much. Thanks, though.

Until next time ~Peg

Oh, and don’t forget:

  1. I’ve got a BOOKSWEEPS contest right now for Romantic Comedies that DEARLY BELOVED is a prize in. Enter here: BOOKSWEEPs
  2. The ROMANCE GEMS are having a June giveaway. Enter here: JUNE 

 

TTFY

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#MFRWauthor If I know you…be prepared to be written about!

This week’s blog post may get me in a little hot water with some of my friends ( who may not be my friends anymore after reading this! heehee).

I will admit, most of the characters I write about are complete creations of my own. I’ve said I’m a people watcher and characteristic voyeur, and I am. I watch strangers all the time when I am out and about and then think up story lines for them that work their way into my writing.

But….

There are some people I personally know who have such defined characteristics, quirks, or ways of speaking that I just haven’t been able to NOT put  them in a story.

For instance: I have a friend who is a marathon runner. Obsessively a marathon runner. Some of  the things she does to train I attached to a character in one of my books who runs. I’m not gonna tell you which book or character, but I know my friend knows which it is because she nailed me on it. In a good way. She was actually flattered. Dodged a bullet on that one, folks!

I have a fringe acquaintance who is a real P.I.T.A. when it comes to always having the last word. No matter what subject we are discussing, what the context, or even if he/she knows nothing about it, he/she will always, ALWAYS need to have the last word. It’s almost pathological. I’ve written a character with that trait and you know what? The person didn’t even recognize themself when they read it. Pathetic.

I know a man who has the annoying habit of saying “yeah, huh?” after every sentence. It doesn’t even make sense in some usages, but he does it anyway. You know sure as the sun shines in Poughkeepsie I’m using that in a character. Soon, too!

I heard Jackie Collins give an interview once where the interviewer asked her where she got her inspiration for all her Hollywood heartthrobs and heroines. Jackie had always said she never based any of her characters on one specific person but an amalgam of people. In this interview she slipped and said, ‘The character based on Madonna–” she stopped herself from saying more, snapped her fingers, and then said, “Oh, fudge, I swore I was never gonna say that!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happens to us all.

Since this is a blog hop, head on over to the other authors participating to see how they deal with real people and the characters they create.

 

 

 

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Ticks, Quirks, and Traits..oh my!

I had fun talking about character mannerisms the other day, so today I’m going to go a little more in-depth into the differences in mannerisms ( which has a sort of positive connotation) and ticks, quirks and traits ( which lean more to the negative side of the mannerism scale.)

Woman Biting Lip --- Image by © Jupiterimages/Brand X/Corbis

We’ve all known someone who had an annoying habit – like chewing gum incessantly while talking, eating, etc – or has a little quirky laugh after every sentence. I personally know someone who purses their lips at the end of every sentence. I always want to ask, “Did you want a kiss for saying that?”  But luckily have refrained from doing so. And every one of us has at least one person ( usually a teen or 20-something) in our lives who use the words “like, um, ya know” without end.

These little individual ticks quirks, traits and habits make the people in our world three dimensional and real, because, lets face it, they are! When you read a character like this, you believe them more because you can actually see their behavior coming to life on the page. Where this gets frustrating and absolutely annoying for the reader, is when the habit is mentioned every time the character is on stage.

Businesswoman looking away and twisting hair

I read a book recently that everyone who read it said was great. Good characters, great plot, sound ending. I hated it. Why? The main character was so flat and one dimensional I couldn’t get passed it. Plus, she had two character ticks that were mentioned every single time she was on scene – and that was almost in every scene of the book. She bit her bottom lip and opened her eyes wide when she was nervous ( which was the whole damn book!) Mentioning it once or even twice seemed more than enough, but every frickin’ scene? The part that really tans my hide is that this book got published by a major house.

Crazy.

So, enough ranting. The way to make your characters as believable and likable as possible is to make them seem real to the reader. We all agree on that, yes? It’s up to us, the writers, to decide whether to give the characters positive quirks or  negative ones.

Examples always work best for me, so here goes: ( and these are just some that I thought of. You could fill a book with all of them, truly.)

Negative habits, ticks, quirks: nail biting, lip pursing, sighing, leg shaking, toe tapping, finger snapping, gum chewing or snapping, frequent eye rolls, smirking, twittering laugh, nervous laugh, whining, poor use of language, frequent cursing, profanity in place of proper English and word use, interrupting others while they are speaking, hair twirling . You get the picture…think up some more of your own.

nerves4

Positive habits, ticks, quirks: frequent head nodding, intense smiling, frequent touching of the other person ( not in a sexual way), overly compassionate, cries at the drop of a pin, laughs at everything. Again, fill in your own here.

My point with this post was to get writers to recognize the things their characters do while on the page and to find that simple yet oh-so-hard balance of making them come to life for the reader. There is nothing that turns me off a book faster than one-dimensional characters, or those that are so over the top I can’t get vested in them because they are unbelievable to me as actual people.

It’s a fine line we ride as writers to make our characters as real as possible. Adding in individual mannerisms, etc, is a wonderful way to make the character pop to life. Too much of it though, is a reader turn off.

So ( you saw this coming, I know!), what are some positive and negative traits you’ve used for characters that worked, and which ones didn’t. Let’s discuss…..

nerves2

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Mannerisms mean more…

I’m currently reading an exceptional book titled, Getting Into Character: 7 Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors, by Brandilyn Collins. Collins shows you how using the techniques actors use to “get inside the heads of their characters” can help you flesh out more realistic, memorable characters of your own in your writing. One of the fascinating aspects of this is developing and incorporating character traits or mannerisms.

Each one of us has some individual mannerism that helps define and shape how we present ourselves to others. For example, when I get nervous around people ( which is most of the time!) I have a habit of folding my hands in front of myself because they tend to shake and I don’t want anyone to notice the shaking. In my latest book. First Impressions, I gave that mannerism to my heroine, Clarissa, because she, too, is nervous when she meets new people. The hero notices it and whenever he spots this behavior, he attempts to quell her nerves. I know… le sigh!

nervous

I know someone who, when she gets angry, instead of blustering and bellowing with rage, becomes deathly quiet and speaks so lowly, it forces everyone around her to listen. What a powerful tool that is. I’m incorporating it into my next heroine.

Think of characters you have read or seen on television. What quirks made them memorable? Would Columbo have been as memorable if it hadn’t been for the way he cocked his head, squinted an eye and said, “just one  more thing, if I may?” How about Magnum, P.I.? Forget about Tom Selleck’s moustache for a moment and think about the way he lifted his eyebrows and grinned whenever he wanted to be charming. Worked for me. Or how about Arthur Fonzerelli, aka The Fonz? Would he be as cool and remarkable if he hadn’t entered every room saying “Ayyyyyyy?” Or more recently, what about Fox Muldur and all those sunflower seeds he was perpetually eating?Columbo_resize_2

Think of some of your own favorites, because as you can see, these all date me as a 70’s and 80’s chick!

 

muldur

In an old Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot book, whose title I can’t for the life of me remember, Poirot was able to catch a criminal who was an expert at disguises because whenever the bad guy ate bread, he would pull it apart into little pieces. Poirot spotted the guy doing this at a cafe and voila! Bad guy caught.

I think for the next few posts I’ll be discussing character development this way, and referring to the Collins book.

But first, here’s a sigh worthy photo:

magnum

Le sigh*****

So, what character traits do you find fascinating, in books, or tv, or movies? Let’s discuss….

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Literary characters, research, Romance Books, Wild Rose Press Authoe