August 27, 2013

Character Development 3 - Quirks

Dear M,

I wish to continue where I had left off Character Development. As I had mentioned, this is the difficult part. But I feel this is the part that could bring life to our characters, because it helps us connect with them, it makes us feel that the characters are people just like us, and hence it makes us feel these are our own stories.

We could call these character traits quirks. If we look around closely, we find a lot of them in people. It's just that unless they are extraordinarily weird, we do not even notice - the mannerisms, the strange (and sometimes annoying) habits, their common gestures, their attitudes, their responses to situations and all those.

A girl who has long, straight, thick hair that is the envy of everyone around her, always flicks her hair back when she speaks.
A person who starts every conversation with "See." "See, this is what I did. See, this is where we are going. See, the sun is up already. See, what he told me yesterday was.."
A person who clicks his tongue.
A scientist who has an obsession with astronomy and loves to teach children all about constellations and star formations, places herself in her balcony with a telescope every evening after sunset.
A gorgeous woman who keeps looking at your feet whenever she speaks, making you wonder if shoes doth make a man, so what does she think mine make me?
A man who smiles only about twice a year and the rest of the time sulks as though life is tired of him or he is tired of the rest of us.
A man who is quite skilled at his craft, but who yawns all the time; the yawning makes others feel he is incompetent.
A girl who runs her hand through her lips when she is thinking.
A person who can work at his computer only if he has old film songs running.
A boy who always walks with ear plugs from his mobile.
A woman who makes an impatient face every time she is asked to do something that she is paid for.
A person who engulfs everyone with her optimism when she is at her best, and drowns everyone in pessimism when she is depressed.
A person who appears very friendly and polite and enchanting, but who picks up little things when no one is looking.
A person with very high general knowledge and reads a great deal.
A person who is kind.
A person who quotes the movies in every conversation.
A person who is always anxious, and terrified of every day.
A person who ignores others when he is hard at work.
A person with a vibrant social life. Another who avoids social get-togethers.

In some recent books I read, there were these characters: a genius mathematician who forget trifles like people's names, one person who gets agitated easily, another who takes offence quickly, yet another who is deeply superstitious, one who has a very high memory power, one who is excited like a child at the smallest things and another who is so dedicated to his work that he has his work brought to hospital after he had a heart attack, a woman who thinks a person who cannot speak English well cannot be respectable enough.

These are not all. One good exercise we could do as writers would be to note down whatever quirks we have observed of others. Think of smugness, modesty, humility, pleasant or gloomy attitude, talkativeness - you have a whole range to choose from. There will always be a pattern. It's up to us to notice them, note them and immortalise them!

What are my own quirks? I have hidden some of them in the list above. I hope you will not find them.


Like this post on Facebook!

1 comment :