Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good and bad habits. Do your characters have them?

I'm not doing a book review today, since I didn't have time to read this past week. So, I thought I'd talk a little about habits. Yes, habits. We all have them, good or bad.
For example. My mom always twists one strand of hair when she's bored. She does it while driving all the time, and I don't remember a time when she didn't do it. It's just something she does, and I'm sure she'll always do it.
My son has a habit of playing with his ears. He'll twist them and pull on them. He tells me they are cold, and it drives me crazy because he does it all the time! I have him wear a hat at home so he doesn't do it so often. His teacher probably thinks he has horrible ear infections or something. Oh well.
Now for an annoying habit of mine. I have a habit of putting my hands by my neck when I'm nervous. Usually when I'm sitting down and someone is staring at me across the table.
I also separate my M&M's into colors and have to eat them in a certain order. I have to have the same amount of each, so I make sure to eat the extras before I put them into individual piles, and I never ever just eat a handful. It's something I've always done, and even though my hubby thinks I'm insane, I still do it.
Anyway, do your MC's have certain habits that they always seem to be doing? We've all read about the characters who chew on their bottom lip, or bit their lip/tongue so hard it bleeds. I'm talking about something unique. Something that is part of your character and makes them genuine and real. One of my characters likes to put salt on everything, even before she tastes her food. Another one picks at his fingernails when he's bored.

I think it's important to have your characters be as real as possible. They have faults, they have annoying habits and their own quirks. They are their own person, and it's nice to read about someone who seems as real as we are. :)
What is an annoying habit you have? Is it something that you do that drives you crazy or something you accept because it's who you are?


Diana said...

annoying habits? me? no way! lol I'm an open mouth insert foot person. I have certain ways I like things cut in the kitchen,too.

I like to put little quirks in my characters. Subtle things that make them real and relatable, but try to stay away from the "been there done that" stuff.

Ruth Josse said...

I do the same thing with m&ms! Or any kind of colored candy. My most annoying habit is that I finish peoples sentences. I hate when others do it so I'm constantly stopping myself. And it is hard to find those habits and quirks that haven't been done before. I love your salty girl. That's a good one:)

Devin Bond said...

I do the exact same thing with my M&Ms. I do that with Skittles, Starbursts and Sweetarts too. ...Basically any candy that has multiple flavors/colors.

Unique quirks definitely make a character interesting! My only problem is creating one in a character that wants to be "perfect" haha. They'll come soon enough though!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I have no annoying habits..all my habits are endearing... LOL! I also separate the M&Ms and eat them in order.

Michelle Merrill said...

I do the same thing with my M&M's...and my skittles, and my taffy, and really any kind of treat that has different color. When it gets down to one of each, I save the best color or flavor for last.

Some of my character's have habits, but they could probably use more. In the book, "Save the Cat," he refers to it as a limp and an eyepatch. It's good to have something that distinguishes each character. So when the reader reads the name, they think, "Oh, the guy with the limp and the eyepatch."

It's a great book. And this is a great topic. Thanks for the post! I'm glad you're back and that you had a safe trip.

Abhishek said...


My character is a officer of reserve army who has to go for some time critical mission of National Importance!!

He trains himself from military fiction books and keeps on reciting the Catchy Phrases from those books whenever he is gonna face / is facing similar situation!!!

with warm regards

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@R.S.J.Yay! I'm glad someone else does the same thing with their M&M's! I finish peoples sentences too sometimes... I try not to, but sometimes it just comes out! ;)

@Diana I don't have annoying habits either! LOL ;)

@Devin Bond Ha ha! I love it! I definitely do it with skittles and starbursts too! I have to save the best color for last!

@Lynda R Young LOL! Yay! Another M&M sorter!! :D

@Michelle Merrill I save the best color or flavor for last too!! I really need to read Save the Cat. Seriously. I've heard it's so great. I'm so glad to be back too!

@AllMyPosts Catchy phrases? Such an interesting quirk! That is so awesome! :D

Carol Riggs said...

Great reminder in this post! I think those little thing make characters much more real. I will have to take another look at my characters...

Candice said...

My character refuses to use contractions. In her head, or her speech.

Sari Webb said...

Great post, Chantele. My hair is naturally curly but I get it chemically straightened. The result is straight, very unhealthy hair. I have a habit of picking at my split ends. When I write I have to tie my hair completely back or I just sit there picking at my hair.

Katie Dodge said...

That's it! I'm bringing a bag of M&Ms to the meeting tonight.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Katie DodgeYay for M&M's!! :D
@Carol Riggs I sometimes forget to give my characters little quirks, but then I seem to put them in anyway and notice them later! LOL
@Candice I'm really curious about your book Candice! It sounds so good!
@Sari Webb I used to pick at my split ends when I had long hair. Now I forget about it since my hair is short! ;)

Jordan McCollum said...

I pick at split ends, too!

One of my characters rubs her fingers on her desk (I envision this almost like she's giving the desktop a deep massage, LOL.) I discovered this habit in the character's mother and thought it'd be fun to have her pick it up, too.

In Brandilyn Collins's book on Getting into Character, she has an exercise on finding a unique gesture for your characters.

Oh, wait... this is another of my bad habits. Reading blogs when I should be editing!

Brooke R. Busse said...

I have to sit on the right side of the car and sleep on the right side of the bed otherwise I feel out of place. Also, I am continuously rubbing paper when I read. I will also do it if I have a book sitting in front of me while I'm on the computer.

Anonymous said...

Your son is not the only one that plays with his ears. Ive been playing with my ears all of my life and I'm 40. Its a hard to break habit. I fold them, twist, pull them, and more. I also love it when others allow me to play with their ears. They feel better when their cold. I try not to do it in front of others but i get away with doing it discreetly. This is not a common habit, but it is a form of a pacifier like sucking of the thumb. The conscious effort to stop can help slow the habit down, but sometimes when im dealing with tough life challenges, i find myself slipping back into it regularly.

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