She of the Many Writerly Quirks

Writers are weird.  All writers accept this fact, and so do their families and friends (poor souls).  But beyond the general oddness of scribbling on hands and arms when no paper is in reach or else dropping everything to go record a fantastic new idea–each writer has his own personal quirks.  That are usually hilarious.  Here are mine!

1. When I get a really good idea, I get hyper.  Too hyper to finish writing down said idea.  I walk around, grab my phone, change songs on my ipod , do anything but take the pen and finish writing that idea.  I’m not sure why this happens.  Maybe I get energized by ideas?–and therefore can’t sit still in the face of an energy surge?  Whatever the reason, the more rational side of my brain looks on in exasperation as I dance around rather than record that perfect new idea which fills in a massive plot holes and ties together 7 other plot threads.

2. My story notes ramble all over the place and often contradict each other!  I pursue tangents in parenthesis, break off in mid-sentence to write something else, forget what I was going to originally write, get sidetracked with research, dump all my notes in one place, forget when and where I filed that one stray note…..  Then I get confused trying to sort through them all!

3. In most of my character casts, gentlemen outnumber the ladies.  I’m honestly not sure why I do this.  It’s never intentional; the ratio just ends up that way.  Maybe since I know how women think, I’m more interested in exploring a new mindset?  It may also be a subtle response to a pet peeve: I really, really hate it when females are tossed into a story just for the sake of having females in that story.  (And these characters are rarely influential anyway.)  However, there’s no favoritism when it comes to the needs of the story; if any character, male or female, isn’t needed, I remove the character.

4. I re-use ideas.  If a character doesn’t fit in one story, there’s a good chance I’ll find a place for him or her in another.  If an idea doesn’t fit the current plot, there’s a good chance I’ll simply stick it in another story.  As such, I don’t get too upset anymore when I have to cut things from my manuscript.

5. I cannot easily write in a messy space.  If there’s clutter in my peripheral vision, or I noticed piles of junk on my dresser before I sat at my desk, the messiness hangs over my mind like those cartoon cloudbursts that sit over your head and follow you around, and I just can’t concentrate easily.

6. I refer to my characters as if they were real people, e.g. “If Charles were here, he would do so-and-so…”

7. I refer to my stories by the setting or the era until I create a working title, e.g. “theatre story,” “lighthouse story,” “20s story”.  But one poor story doesn’t even have that much description; it’s still listed in my digital folders as “Story2”.

8.  In the same way, I give my characters nicknames before they get proper names.  The nicknames, however, are often names of TV show characters, other novel characters, and movie characters.  For example, I dubbed an incompetent leader character “Buckland,” borrowing the name of the very incompetent first mate from the Horatio Hornblower episodes “Mutiny” and “Retribution.”

9. However, it drives me absolutely NUTS to have an unnamed character…I can’t picture my characters well unless they have proper names.  Sometimes I’ll give “placeholder” names to a character–that is, temporary proper names until I find more fitting ones later–but then those names often end up sticking and I never find replacements.

10. I used to want as few secret story boards and character boards on Pinterest as possible.  This approach seemed tidier and more organized.  Now I make a new secret board for every good story/character idea I get–I created two story boards last night right after getting ideas for new stories.

11. I love finding the Meyers-Briggs types of each of my characters…but I usually do this after they’re developed nicely.  (Otherwise, I might accidentally write the character to fit the type, rather than finding out what type fits the character!)  So far, I’ve written characters of all 16 types, though I admit that ISTJs and INTJs dominate.  🙂

12. Semi-colons are apparently my favorite punctuation mark, often combined with run-on sentences to create a paragraph that sounds like something out a Dickens novel; not a bad thing in and of itself, of course, unless the paragraph becomes confusing with all the ideas contained therein; usually, the sentences all have a single train of thought running through them, or some overarching category or principle, but some sentences could nonetheless be put in their own paragraphs.

13. Irony of ironies…I have terrible spelling skills.  Maybe I’ve come to rely too much on the red underlining in Microsoft Word, but my spelling is atrocious on paper and on any program without a red underline to denote misspelled words.

14. I love color-coding my handwritten story notes.  Cobalt is the ink color I use for Gentle Fire; dark green is for Empty Clockwork; dark red is for my English political novel; pink or purple is for my theatre story, plain old blue is for that “Story2” I mentioned above, and the list goes on.

So, there are some of my writerly quirks!  Feel free to mention yours in the comments!

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