Characters have quirks. It’s what makes them likeable and similar to “real people.” In fiction, you are supposed to push their quirks as far as you can to make them three dimensional. This weekend on a twelve hour road trip to pick up my two children from their vacation with grandma, I discovered one of mine. I have the odd need to fondle, grope, and “man-handle” art.
It started out innocently enough when we agreed to stop at “The Lumberjack Cafe” for breakfast. Getting out of the car, we had the hard hitting conversation about if Hubs would order his usual of biscuits and gravy or branch out to pancakes when I spotted the giant lumberjack near the door. How I missed it on the drive up to the parking lot, I have no idea. The large framed rugged man in his airbrushed flannel shirt and bright blue pants called to me as any enlarged Americana art usually does. I snapped a quick shot with my phone to immediately upload it to Twitter and Facebook. But it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving my giant lumberjack without having some defiling memento.
I asked Hubs to hump the leg. He looked between the busy street of numerous cars stopped at the traffic signal on our left and the large crowd growing in the all-windowed waiting room to our right. He laughed a “no” like there was insanity behind the thought. If there was going to be any sexual statue harassment, it was up to me. I climbed as close as I could to get the “money shot.” Lumberjack didn’t even flinch when I went for his three foot crotch.
When I revisited my uploaded memory of the special time I spent with Lumberjack, I realized I have a draw to fondling art in inappropriate ways. It was only four months ago I was walking the streets of Portland and came across the silhouette of a modern art woman. She didn’t have a true-to-form female body, but it did have the “lovely lady lumps” stacked on the front. It was just enough for me to think it would be funny to feel her up for a picture. To which I did.
Donald Maass regularly talks about ”quirks” in his books and through tweets. They are the bits to a character which makes them unique and real. On July 19th, he tweeted “What’s a foundational attribute of your MC? Create an odd tic or habit that implies the opposite. Add six times. Voilà: a quirk.” The follow up tweet, ”Start with the first standout quality: quirks. Effective quirks create a contradiction” finished the lesson. Besides the fact he’s genius for teaching a writing technique in two 146-charactered lines, he makes a great point. It’s these little things we do that make us the characters we are, like gaping our mouths wide open while we take offensive pictures.
I’m not sure what it says about my character by having the same humor as a high school freshman. The fact I cannot leave sculpted genitalia alone might indicate I have a much bigger problem in my life. But it did give a perfect example about writing quirks. What can I say? I do it all for my craft. What quirks do you have? What tics make you who you are?