So, I finally missed a post yesterday. Considering my usual track record (and the heavy workout my eyes got over the weekend), I’m happy that I waited until pee… er, P, to miss one. Consistency isn’t one of my strong suits.
That brings me to today’s post: quirks. Whether it’s as a Writer or as a Character, quirks matter. They’re what makes a person unique.
There are quirks that make a character fun and there are quirks that make a character annoying. I try to keep my characters right on the edge, like Next Door Neighbor Kid in The Annals of Bobian:
Then Next Door Neighbor Kid showed up.
Next Door Neighbor Kid was three or four or some other young age that The Bobian didn’t really remember and didn’t at all understand. Next Door Neighbor Kid was annoying in a way that made The Bobian want to practice acts of violence that would get him grounded. Next Door Neighbor Kid idolized The Bobian and followed him around whenever The Bobian didn’t find a way to stop him.
The sandbox was technically part of the community play area, so he couldn’t tell Next Door Neighbor Kid not to play there. Or he could, but it wouldn’t do any good.
“Hey!” Next Door Neighbor Kid always started his sentences with ‘hey’. He also used a lot of exclamation points in his sentences. The Bobian could almost see the punctuation in the air. “Hey, I’m going to play with you, okay?” Next Door Neighbor Kid also ended every sentence with ‘okay’, which was not okay with The Bobian. It was annoying.
The Bobian chose not to answer. If he didn’t answer, maybe Next Door Neighbor Kid would go away. It had never happened before, but he was a firm believer in the power of positive thought. Also, he couldn’t remember Next Door Neighbor Kid’s name, so he didn’t really know what to call him.
“I’m going to play with you, okay? I like playing with people. Hey, but you’re really dirty. Did you know you’re really dirty? I’m going to play with you, but my mommy said to not get dirty, so I’m going to play over here, okay?” Next Door Neighbor Kid settled in a few feet away. “Hey, this works for playing together, okay?”
The Bobian didn’t answer. He was building an ice cream cake out of dirt. This took artistry and concentration. Mostly, it took lots of trying, because the dirt didn’t want to stick together. It was still hot and very dry. He mounded it into shape until it stayed, then carefully patted it down. When he had a mostly-flat surface, he wrote “Happy Summer, Bobian” on the top. Perfect.
“Hey, that’s pretty cool.” Next Door Neighbor Kid was right next to him in spite of promising that dirt would be enough to keep him away. “Hey, that looks like I could eat it. You don’t mind if I try to eat it, right? I’m going to eat it, okay?”
The Bobian looked at Next Door Neighbor Kid, then he looked at the cake. He considered his options. He could say no. Next Door Neighbor Kid would throw a huge fit and run home to tattle. The Bobian would get in trouble for making Next Door Neighbor Kid throw a fit, even if he did the right thing.
On the other hand, he could let Next Door Neighbor Kid try the dirt cake. He would eat it. He would probably spit it out. Maybe he wouldn’t tell his mom that The Bobian had shared it with him because he wanted The Bobian to be his friend. As an added bonus, The Bobian would get Next Door Neighbor Kid all dirty and maybe his mother wouldn’t like him being all dirty. Then the sandbox would be a safe haven for The Bobian for the rest of the summer.
The Bobian stood up and took a step back, motioning to the cake. Next Door Neighbor Kid squealed in annoying pleasure and practically threw himself at the cake, scooping up a huge handful that wrecked the word “happy”. Next Door Neighbor Kid shoved the huge handful in his mouth and, after considerable effort, swallowed it down. The Bobian grudgingly liked him a little better for that.
As a Writer, I try to stay a little more on the side of The Bobian than Next Door Neighbor Kid. I want to be quirky enough that you have to see what I’ve been up to, but not so quirky that you go play in dirt to try to keep me away. That’s really how all Writers and Characters should be: like an itch you have to scratch, but comfortable enough that you don’t just get out the lotion to solve the whole thing.
What quirks make you (or your favorite Characters) unique?