Habits-Good or Bad?

Each and every one of us has habits, little mannerisms set us apart from everybody else.
Sometimes they are clear and obvious things that others recognize from a distance and can say; “Yep that’s her, I can tell just by the way she’s doing (fill in the blank).”

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Your habits can be as innocent as twirling your hair, tapping your fingers, pacing, humming, or tapping your feet. There so many, the list goes on. Sometimes habits irritate another person. My personal irritation is watching somebody bite their fingernails. Look, nothing grosses me out more, but I know that my finger tapping irritates my husband. So, it’s a give-and-take with us; he bites his nails and I tap my nails.

Mannerisms and habits can describe you in many ways. They can reveal that you’re nervous person or perhaps easily bored. Your “tells” may never be seen until you’re in a stressful situation and then act almost as a self-defense mechanism; we let our stress out with these little idiosyncrasies.
Take a look around you, do little bit of people watching and see what you find.

But, you know, it’s funny – people aren’t the only creatures that have mannerisms and habits. Have you ever stopped and noticed your animals actions?

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For instance I have three cats and each one of them has her own particular habit that they do. My little gray likes to find a furry blanket to curl up and then she start sucking on the fur. My long hair black-and-white one loves to sit in the middle of the doorway, not in & not out. No, she is right smack across the threshold, as if she can’t make a decision where she wants to go. And my oldest cat, who happens to be almost 18, refuses to drink water, unless it’s out of a running tap.

Even the animals out in the wild have their own particular habits. Some birds migrate to the same exact location every year without fail, without deviation. As a child, my parents would take us while the snow was still on the ground, to see the Canadian Geese that came by the hundreds to the lakes during their yearly migration. So you see, habits are not restricted to humans. Some are natural; cause from your heredity and others – who knows why we start with habits.

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As a writer I think it’s really important to bring your characters to life by giving them habits. They can be irritating, endearing, or unconscious but they need to be there. These mannerisms give your character more depth and help reader get to know them better. For instance Megan, in my Citrus Beach Mystery series is a pacer. When she gets nervous she paces and often irritates those around her by doing this. It’s these little things that let you begin to understand the character more.

So, as you sit there on a bench and people watch, try figure out what habits strangers show without realizing. Can some of those habits that you’re watching from other people be worked into your story?

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Give your character some life, give them some interest, and give them some habits.

Is Your Charcter Friend or Foe – Do You Know?

How well do you know the characters of your book?
Do they come to life on paper as you write? Or, do you have an idea of who you’re creating before you sit down and write your first word?

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Are your characters based on somebody you know? Even a loose rendering of that person? Maybe it’s somebody from your past, or somebody that you aspire to know. How do you create your character?

Your main characters are usually pretty easy to come up with. Sometimes they may even be loosed based on yourself. Yet the supporting & minor characters, the villains & opponents of your main character are a bit more difficult to create. Have no doubt, they are very important, a glue that holds your story together. These are the characters give your main character substance as they play off each other, giving each character their own importance.

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A sub-character can give background for your main character. They can be your Watson to Sherlock, they can be your Ethel to Lucy; depending upon the type of character that you want. But it’s important to develop them and stick with that development.

Your villain or your character’s opponent should be interesting, not just a persona of evil. Anybody can write something about a mean person or a hateful person, but to truly find what makes somebody evil you had to know more about them. And your readers want to know more about them, what made them the character that they are?

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A lot of writers use character development sheets. This is simply taking your characters and writing on a separate page, notebook, or flash card as much as you can about them. Include their physical appearance, their likes & dislikes, their habits and their history. Visualize scenarios and how they will react. What makes them tick –  do they like green jellybeans and hate yellow jellybeans? Do they love cats and hate dogs? Are they a city person or a country person? These are all characteristics of your main characters that need to be consistent throughout your book. If you continue on into a series you need to take these basics and develop them; as your series grows, your character grows.

So, are your characters a complete figment of your imagination? Or maybe a reflection of somebody you know, or maybe even a bit of yourself? It’s important to put as much details about all of your characters into your manuscript, so that your readers get to know your characters, and love them or hate them the way that you do.

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Develop your characters like you would a real relationship.

The Next Block-Buster?

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A question was recently raised on one of the writing forums that I read and it caught my attention. The question was; if your book were to be made into a movie, what would it be rated? This is a legitimate question; with today’s technology, there so many other things we do in our daily life that could apply to this question, so why not books too. We lounge around, interacting with technology rather than just reading. And let’s be honest; every writer would love to see their book made into a movie!  Can you picture the name of your book up there on the theater marquee?
So, I was thinking let’s go one step further and ask: who would you have star in a movie based on your book? Who would be that perfect actor/actress to play your lead? Would it be somebody known well-known, somebody from recent movie hits? Or would you pick an old favorite like Audrey Hepburn or Betty Davis? And (sometimes even more importantly) who would play your villain?  Will it be a dark and evil  type like Vincent Price?  Or maybe your villain will take everyone by surprise and be someone clean-cut and unexpected like Neal Patrick Harris?

 

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And then there’s all the minor roles; do you get well-known stars or do you look for new talent? Whatever you do the supporting roles can be just as important as your lead and as a writer you know how you’ve developed those rules down to the minute detail. You’ve taken the time to bring your reader into your mind and create details that will stick with them, from the very first page to the end. These details will describe the story, characters, settings and the emotions of your book. How will that portray on the big screen are; are you now setting yourself up to become screenwriters stead of a novelist? These are all things that you need to think about if you ever really want to fulfill that dream of seeing your book being made into a movie.

 

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Me? I think I’m going to stick to my laptop and creating a mental escape for my readers with written words. I’ll let somebody else worry about writing a screenplay for my books!