9 Days Later (Not To Be Confused With 28 Days Later); Also, Character Quirks

Nope, the title of this post isn’t about zombies – it’s about my glorious 9-day blogging hiatus! While I missed you all, I have to admit it was nice to take a little break. Everyone needs a break once in a while, don’t you think? Oh, and I’m pretty sure I’ve missed some blogfests I signed up for. Sorry about that. Really. I apologize if you came here looking for a blogfest entry and found this instead. Oh well, keep reading – maybe you’ll enjoy it…?

While I was gone, I started thinking about my second completed novel, Synthesis, and how different I felt when I finished it than when I finished The Clearing. The characters in Synthesis seem so much more real to me, so much stronger. Why is that? What was the difference?

And then it hit me: QUIRKS!

What makes a great character? Well, think about people you describe as a “character,” as in, “Oh, that guy is such a character!” Why did you describe them that way? Probably it had something to do with his spot-on Donald Trump impression or the way he never could go to a restaurant without spilling his drink all over the table. Or possibly you have a friend who always wears bright red lipstick that somehow gets smudged on everything she touches, or a friend who bears an uncanny similarity to her dog.

In other words, it’s quirks that make a character.

And this got me thinking: Everyone has at least one quirk. There are quirks all around us. And we should be using these quirks to help us write better characters.

I considered what my biggest quirk would be (and believe me, there are thousands to choose from) and you know what I came up with?

Get ready, ’cause it’s weird. Bizarre, even.

My biggest quirk is this: Every time I walk into a public bathroom – whether it’s at my workplace or the world’s grungiest gas station or somewhere in between – every time I walk into a public bathroom, there’s a split second right when I’m opening the stall door where I wonder if I’m going to find a dead body inside.

Seriously. It happens every. dang. time.

Have I ever found a dead body in a public bathroom? No. And chances are I never will. But the thought always crosses my mind.

So my question for you is this: What’s your biggest quirk? Do you have an unnatural aversion to kittens? Secretly love the smell of your husband’s sweaty socks? What is it?

I can’t wait to read your comments on this one!

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23 thoughts on “9 Days Later (Not To Be Confused With 28 Days Later); Also, Character Quirks

  1. HeatherM says:

    Wow, I’m pretty sure I can’t top that quirk. I wonder what elicites that fear in you? That’s very curious! My biggest quirk is how distracted I get, all the time. Oooo, something shiny… I’m the type of person that has to be doing several things at once. I usually burn food, I clean while I’m on the phone, and I always have at least three windows open on the internet because I need something to distract me while pages load.

  2. Alexandra Shostak says:

    You’re too funny! Lol! Well now the next time I’m in a public bathroom (especially those super sketchy ones in gas stations that you only use when on a road trip and are in the middle of nowhere and CANNOT WAIT any longer) I am going to have that same thought!

    I’ve been taking an unofficial blogging hiatus this month. It’s nice for the most part (I just put up a couple things), but I realized so quickly that I really missed a lot of people, including you! 🙂

  3. TERI REES WANG says:

    I loved watching the “Actor’s Studio” just to hear them admit their own quirks and reveal what quirks they borrowed to give more definition to the character(s) they portrayed.

    My Kahuna leaves the house everyday, pulls out the driveway, and nearly crashes in to head on traffic. Everyday. Sometimes many times in one day. He looks back over his shoulder to see if he actually shut the front door. Then, he turns to ask me, sitting next to him “Did I shut the front door?”.

    I gotta search out my own quirks.

    Cheers!

  4. Kati McDaniel says:

    I guess I have two major quirks that I can think of. I have to put 16 swipes of deodorant per arm, each morning. Why? Well, it’s an even number, and also a perfect square, and I can divide it as many times as I want and it will still be an even number. Weird? Probably! I also think about how people would find me if I happened to be abducted and I try to think up ways that others can find me. Latest solution: pull out hair as I’m going and place it in a breadcrumb trails (think Hansel and Gretel). Weird? Yes! Morbid? Possibly . . . I’m just quirky that way! I love reading your blog, Anne!

  5. Joanna St. James says:

    Ha ha what a funny quirk, have you ever tried to find out why? did you read a book or something?
    My quirk is anywhere I go if there is a toilet brush and a toilet I shall probably clean it, there now u know my quirk.

  6. Anne Riley says:

    Heather M: That’s hilarious! I can definitely be the same way – especially right now, what with the nesting instinct kicking in so strong. You’re not alone there!

  7. Anne Riley says:

    Alexandra: Yeah, it was sort of a blessing and a curse… I only did it to get some things done around here, and now I can’t stand it any longer – I have to come back! Nice to see you again!

  8. Anne Riley says:

    Kati: Hey, I think I may have found someone as quirky as me! Haha! First of all, at least you know you always smell good… and secondly, if you’re ever abducted, your kidnappers will probably let you go once they realize how well prepared you are for just such a situation. Glad you enjoy reading! Nice to hear from you!

  9. Anne Riley says:

    Joanna: I have no idea where it came from. It started years ago and I have never gotten rid of it! It’s not even really a fear, just a passing thought I have every time I go in a bathroom. And hey – cleaning toilets is a pretty good quirk, if you ask me!

  10. Ansley says:

    Usually, when I’m in conversation with people, I naturally look at their mouths, not their eyes. When I was younger, (and still, kinda now too) I was totally convinced that I did this because I was going to be deaf someday and I was subconsciously learning to read lips.

    True story.

    Welcome back.

  11. nick says:

    “Have I ever found a dead body in a public bathroom?”

    Drunk? Yes. Doped out? Yes. Dead? No.

    Sounds like you had a bad childhood experence – find Aunt Agnes decked out on the bidet, did you?

  12. Anne Riley says:

    Jemi: I don’t even watch scary movies, so you’re ahead of me on that one! And yes, I would say taking off your socks counts!

  13. Tess says:

    I have a serious problem with opening drawers and cabinets to retrieve something and then leaving them open without a second thought. Ben says it’s like coming home to a Poltergiest or something. Weird. Maybe his quirk is weird conclusions.

  14. Dean from Australia says:

    We’ve kinda discussed this one before but I think it warrants a mention once more here. I have this maddening quirk whereby I cannot go past a bookshelf without re-arranging all the books on it by size. I do it in my son’s room almost daily because he cannot seem to put the books back in the shelf where he found them. Granted…he’s only four years old…but that’s no excuse whatsoever. And likewise with the local Borders store – when will their employees learn to keep their shelves neat and tidy. I mean – customers are total pigs sometimes and will carelessly toss back a book with no regard to where it should go. I swear, if it weren’t for me – Borders here would sink!!

  15. Jordyn says:

    My biggest quirk?
    UHHMMM… I have one that’s very similar to yours actually. Every time I walk to my car at night, EVERY SINGLE TIME, I get really scared for a second that there’s going to be a dead body in the driver’s seat.

    But I don’t know that that’s my biggest quirk. I’ll have to do some thinking on that point.

  16. Anne Riley says:

    Tess: You and my husband should get together and leave some drawers open. I bet y’all would have a blast. He does that too! Ha!

  17. Anne Riley says:

    Dean: Yes, we have discussed this before – and we have very opposing views on the proper way to arrange a bookcase. I enjoy the “cityscape” method – in other words I don’t like for the books to be in order by size. I like them to be a little bit random so that some taller books are next to some shorter ones, etc. If I were ever in your house, we’d constantly be rearranging the bookcases.

  18. Anne Riley says:

    Jordyn: I think you may have just given me another quirk 🙂 Now I’ll be looking for dead bodies in my car, too! Actually I did used to have a problem with worrying that someone was hiding in the back seat of my car, but that was when I drove an SUV. Now I have a tiny clown car and nobody could ever hide anywhere, so I don’t have to worry about that anymore!

  19. Lorel says:

    I have too many quirks to list, but how about this one: My couch is in the center of the room, so I can approach it from any direction, but I will not for any reason circle it widdershins. I don’t know why…

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