Read ‘weird’ as ‘unique’–the type of trait that grabs a reader’s attention and shakes it like a dog with a pillow. I’m constantly looking for these so the characters in my novels are memorable and the reader is excited to follow their journeys.
Here’s a list I’ve culled from people I know, books I’ve read, internet blog posts. Wherever I was, if an odd mannerism caught my attention, I jotted it into my writer’s notebook. Now that it’s long enough, I’m ready to share. If I get organized and finish my WIP this summer, you’ll recognize some of these in my characters:
- eats M&Ms or Skittles by color
- can’t use a pen without a top
- can’t clean his/her house unless it’s night
- types with one finger
- is a debater
- is a man who manicures his nails
- drops last three words of a sentence to a grumble
- has an accent
- whistles when s/he says an s
- whistles out of tune or the same three lines over and over
- wears wingtips
- obsessed with Princess Di (or some other celebrity)
- turns every statement into a question by raising his/her voice at the end of the sentence
- very rosy cheeks–almost rosacea
- has to have even numbers for stuff–like a grade or the volume on his/her iPod
- can’t stand to put wood in his/her mouth–like chopsticks, popsicles, etc.
- calls males ‘son’, i.e. ‘Good job, son!’
- larger-than-normal personal space bubble
- can’t sleep in a messy room
- nibbles at his/her fingers when excited
- can’t eat vanilla cake with chocolate icing
- eats toothpaste
- walks on his/her toes
- always has to have the office/room door closed
- breaks a sandwich up into little pieces before eating it
- loves good grammar
- can’t write with a blue pen
- has a postcard collection
- can’t go anywhere without a bottle of water
- must eat lunch at exactly 11:30 (or noon, or whatever hour works for your novel). If s/he is even a minute late, they have to wait an hour
- smells the pages of a book, or people, or food before eating
- sees everyone as a color–she’s pink
- has a phobia to something weird–like cracks on the sidewalk
- his/her leg shakes every time they sit
- rolls eyes up and to the right as they pontificate (or lecture, or just talk)
Enough? It makes me want to be more tolerant.
If you like this collection, I have a lot more descriptors on everything from how to show someone is lying to description of clothing to those pesky illnesses people have that are their own subplot (think spider bites).
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.
Follow me on Twitter.