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|Developing Character Traits -
by Tina Morgan
Mannerisms are those unique little gestures and movements we make that set us apart from those around us. They are ingrained into our subconscious and we rarely realize we're doing them. Often we learn these traits from a beloved caregiver or other influential people in our lives.
These little idiosyncrasies can be used to give our characters more depth and human appeal. They can also be used as a clue to unraveling a mystery. A villain who breaks twigs whenever he/she is standing near a tree or shrub can give themselves away by the minute pieces of broken wood left in their wake. Or as a poignant remembrance in a tale of loss; a woman always stacked her shelves with the labels facing out and her surviving spouse cannot open the kitchen cupboards without weeping.
Rounding out a character involves more than just relating their conscious actions. What do they do when they're nervous, happy, scared, bored or angry? Does the antagonist crack his knuckles right before he becomes violent? Does the protagonist twirl her hair between her fingers when she's concentrating? There are a wide variety of mannerisms.
tapping a foot
just a few to help you think about your own idle gestures
and how you can incorporate them into your work.
If you observe your co-workers, friends or classmates throughout the course of the day, you should see many interesting mannerisms that you might be able to use in your story. Remember, just as the real people you observe make these movements without thinking about them, your reader should be able to read about your character's mannerisms without really thinking about them.
can help your reader visualize your characters with
greater clarity. A few well placed nervous ticks can help
define who your character is, but like any good thing,
mannerisms should be used with care and discretion.
Rather like chocolate. A little can satisfy a craving for
sweets, too much can lead to longer periods of time on
the tread mill.
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