Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mannerisms/Habits for Characters

So how many of you are doing Nano this year?
Good for you!
I see a lot of show of hands.

Needless to say, November is going to be a really, really crazy busy month for lots of us writers.

For all you Nano writers out there. I've got four words for you:

Just write, write, write and don't look back.

With the help of some awesome cps, I have finished putting my Save the Cat beat sheet together (love you Blake!) and started on my character and setting charts.

As I'm fleshing out my characters, I discover that I can't seem to find my handy mannerisms/habits chart. I had one put away for when I started my next project.

Of course, it's nowhere to be found.

So I decided to compile my own list. It's not much, but thought to share what I have so far and hopefully it can spark some ideas for you.

Feel free to add some more examples in the comments section and I'll be happy to add them to the list.

Think deep.

What does your best friend do when she gets nervous? Does she scratch her nose or maybe blink way too much?

How about your other half? Does he/she have a really annoying habit you have to constantly remind them to stop practicing?

Observe your surroundings. Watch how people react. (You can do this even by watching the actors in movies or cartoons. i.e. Caillou is a champ at whining.) It's actually pretty fun adding quirks and bad habits to characters. Knock yourself out.

What comes to mind when you think of mannerisms? Who do you see and what are they doing?

• Biting fingernails

• Jiggling leg up and down

• Tapping foot

Twirling hair

• Running fingers through hair or tucking hair behind ear. 

• Smacking gum

• Whistling
• Slurping

• Burping

• Yawning

• Glancing at watch

• Talking with a full mouth

• Potty mouth

• Eye-rolling

• Constantly apologizing

• Snapping fingers

• Cracking knuckles (cliche)

• Humming

• Stuttering

• Licking lips

• Sniffing
• Squinting

• Applying Chap Stick to lips

• Picking at nail polish

• Raising eyebrows as they speak

• Winking

• Pulling at bottom lip

• Pinching skin

• Rubbing hands together

• Pointing
Rubbing eyes/chin
• Twirling a ring around finger

• Picking at facial hair—eyebrows/eye lashes/moustache

• Excessive eye blinking

• Shifts in their seat when nervous

• Cross/uncross legs

• Clicking or tapping teeth with a nail

• Shrugging

• Slapping people on the back

• Jaw clenching/jaw muscle jerking (mainly a male attribute)

• Gesturing a lot when speaking

• Slouching

• Putting their feet on a desk or table

• Toying with objects before them

• Chewing on their pencil

• Chewing bottom lip

• Speech patterns

• Nervous cough

• Picking at teeth

• Saluting
Twiddling your thumbs
• Constantly touching up makeup using a compact mirror

• Constantly checking cell phone for messages (text or voice)

• High pitch/low raspy voice depending on mood

• Sliding the tip of one's index fingernail up and down along the side of the thumb beside it

• Playing with their glasses (spectacles) either pushing them up their nose or taking them off and twirling then by one of the arms.


Roseanne Dowell said...

Thanks for sharing. I have a husband and son who insist on moving things around on the table in front of them. If we're at a restaurant, they move the salt and pepper shaker or silverware a dozen time before the food comes. Drives me up the wall.

Sheri Fredricks said...

Hi Mart ~ Sorry you couldn't find your mannerism sheet. When you stop looking for it, it'll show up. And when that happens, shoot a copy over to me! LOL

I saw an interesting mannersim the other day. Before a young man answered any question, he would look up first. Talking on a subject, and he was fine.

I'm a people watcher. Thanks for this list, and all the add-ons to follow!

Christine Warner said...

Like Sheri, I'm a people watcher too! Have gotten a lot of great quirk ideas.

The heroine in my book coming out in March slides the charm on her necklace back and forth on the chain when she's nervous, and I have another story where the heroine's eye twitches when she gets nerved up. I find quirks for heroine's much easier to come up with than for the hero. Must be because I'm a woman. lol

Great subject...

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, Mart! I have lists of habits/vices/mannerisms too! This is a good one. Love Save the Cat!!!!

Tabitha Blake said...

Great list Mart. I love it when characters have little quirks. Makes them seem more real and not so perfect. I don't like reading a character that is perfect.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget mannerisms also vary by culture.
I actually have less trouble with male mannerisms than trying to find a 'habit' for a female that doesn't make her seem 'highstrung' or, well, cliche. (Hair twirling is horrendously overdone, for example)
More habits to add to your new list: clicking or tapping teeth with a nail, shrugging, slapping people on the back, jaw clenching/jaw muscle jerking (mainly a male attribute), gesturing a lot when speaking, slouching, putting their feet on a desk or table, toying with objects before them, chewing on their pencil. Don't forget that speech patterns are also a type of mannerism...
oh you can have a LOT of fun fleshing out these lists. Be sure to post them when you are done.

Martha Ramirez said...

Roseanne, thanks for sharing! That's a great realistic trait.

Sheri--I most def will!Interesting about the person requiring eye contact.

Tabitha-I agree!

Pamela--Awesome list! Thank you so very much! I thougt about voice patterns as well but didn't think it applied so much. It does! Thanks fo pointing that out!

Martha Ramirez said...

Christine--I like the necklace one!
Jennifer--Yay another STC fan!

Janette Harjo said...

Here's a nervous, or maybe thoughtful habit for you. Sliding the tip of one's index fingernail up and down along the side of the thumb beside it. Especially if the side of the thumbnail is not smooth, has a jag or bump.


Martha Ramirez said...

Janette--you got it! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I have a husband and son who insist on moving things around on the table in front of them. If we're at a restaurant, they move the salt and pepper shaker or silverware a dozen time before the food comes.

We used to call this "Table Chess".

Daryl Devore said...

constantly checks cellphone for messages.

great list - will keep it on hand.

Martha Ramirez said...

Thank you, Daryl! But of course. Great one to add to the list!

Anonymous said...

Another couple I have noticed
- playing with their glasses (spectacles) either pushing them up their nose or taking them off and twirling then by one of the arms.
- raising eyebrows as they speak
- winking
- pulling at bottom lip
- pinching skin
- rubbing hands together
- pointing

Martha Ramirez said...

Thank you Anonymous! Good ones! Added them to the list.

Mart Ramirez said...

Awesome, Susanne! I'm doing Nano too. Thanks for taking a break and dropping by.

Elizabeth said...

Love the angel.

Stopping by to take a look around.



Martha Ramirez said...

Thank you so much, Elizabeth!

Anonymous said...

Great list... I'm doing Nano this year too... so need to get my outline and plan finished.

Breanna Curtis said...

Hello Martha, great list i really love it! its very helpful to me being such a young writer. I'm 13 and i started writing for my new home school as an requirement and i must say i really enjoy it. my flaw is making my characters come to life under different circumstances! so thanks so much for your lists it really helps me!

Mart Ramirez said...

You are very welcome Breanna! Thank you for your comment!

Unknown said...

Why do I never hear about your posts until a month or two later - great one - will keep this post in mind when I staring at my laptop wondering what my character should do.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I get really nervous, I like to rub my nose.

Unknown said...

My gosh...this helped me so much--and I realized that some of the stuff on the list was stuff that I did! *laughs* Thanks again for having this up!

Mart Ramirez said...

Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind comment, Sonora! Appreciate it!

Unknown said...

This list was really helpful and all of those mannerisms were what I've seen of my classmates at school. I would love to add a constant mannerism I've seen from some girls. The constant tucking of their hair behind their ear is definitely one. One I see in situations where they might feel shy, anxious or it could just be a habit!
Thanks again, it really helped!

Mart Ramirez said...

Hi Amy! Thank you so much for stopping by! So glad this post helped! And you got it. Adding some tucking behind the ear as well. :-)

Unknown said...

Also picking at the cuticles on your nails is a good one.

Mart Ramirez said...

Another good one. Thank you, Laura! And thank you for visiting my blog.

Mary Chambers said...

Twiddling your thumbs. I do this unconsciously.
Don't know why, usually when I am sitting watching tv or when I am idle.

Mart Ramirez said...

Good one. Mary. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

Unknown said...

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of charater. See the link below for more info.


ThatWeirdGirl said...

I have people in my life who constantly comment on the weird things I do, so here's a few that I have for your list.

Dancing to *any* music subconsciously
Putting your hand over your mouth when thinking/laughing/embarrassed
hiding your face when embarrassed
tipping back your head when laughing
bouncing on feet when waiting
holding your elbows when uncertain
being excessively jumpy

Keighls_CL said...

Can't find my mannerism there . ��

Unknown said...

I have been teased about looking like a supervisor when I'm in a group conversation or observing something. I stand with my hands on my hips, thumbs in front, fingers around back. Also, when I'm nervous and speaking, I often rub my index finger a couple times up and down the side of my nose, usually averting my eyes from the other person/people at the same time. It annoys me when I notice I'm doing it. haha. And if I'm sitting and nervous, I often cross my ankles and swing my legs up and down. My husband curls his toes, uncurls them, recurls them--you get the gist. Drives me insane. Or when he has something to say, he'll stare at me for a minute before he finally speaks. I can always tell he's working over something in his mind.

Unknown said...

-Rocking back and forth in uneven chairs
-Shifting weight from one leg to another
-Characters with glasses/spectacles who have taken them off will subconsciously try to push them up, even if they aren't there (I am often a perpetrator of the Phantom Glasses Push)
-Swirling the liquids in cups they have