Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Little Things

I had some fun recently updating my website front page with a list of things that people might expect to find in my writing. I'm not talking about major themes, but the small touches that I find I keep repeating. This can also apply to the writing itself - for instance, a friend of mine commented on the fact that people kept stepping out of things in my books. Stepping out of houses, doors, flower beds etc etc. Needless to say, from then on nobody stepped out of anything.

So what would be on your list? Does everyone eat cottage pie, or sniff when they get angry? Are all your literary curtains pink or are you far too fond of exclamation marks?!!! (ugh)

12 comments:

Ann Weisgarber said...

My characters spend a lot of time standing at the kitchen sink looking out the window. I'm also partial to characters with red hair and major events always seem to happen in October.

Maybe I'll let my characters leave the kitchen sink and allow them to boldly step out of the house.

Frances Garrood said...

My characters seem to drink a lot of tea and wear knickers (never pants). I also use far too much parenthesis, and seem to be partial to the expression 'long since;' not sure why. But absolutely NO exclamation marks, unless they're essential (as in an exclamation).

David Isaak said...

My characters tend to "ease" up on things. They ease around corners, up against walls, up close to people. They ease into topics in conversations. They ease back into chairs.

Less often, a character for mine can be found "gentling" something (in the sense of calming it, as one gentles a horse). Will found someone or another gentling something or someone three times in my novel, and although it admitted it was a fine and elegant verb, he suggested thrice might be too often for any one book. He was right. Once was plenty.

Alis said...

I've noticed a definite tendency to be overly preoccupied with telling the reader whether people are looking at each other as they speak or not. I'm way too interested in eye-contact. I've clearly been working with autistic kids for far too long...

Tim Stretton said...

An early reader noted that I was excessively fond of the phrase "by no means". I still allow myself the occasional indulgence but I'll always do a search in Word to make sure it's manageable.

I'm also over-enamoured of scenes in which characters walk in formal gardens (Will made me take one out in The Dog of the North). Since my current work in progress will feature the Palace of Versailles I can see this remaining an issue.

And then there's the swordfights...

Neil said...

Repetition of the use of the number four has been pointed out to me before (see, I can't help it). I've also a tendency for characters to wander along riversides or shorelines which I find hard to shake.

RDJ said...

Alis,

I tend to do that as well, but because I had to train myself to make eye contact. Up into my early twenties I looked at others' mouths when in conversation...

My characters are also always doing something with their hands: scratching the web between index and thumb, nibbling hangnails, scraping dirt out from under fingernails. They're all, apparently, obsessed with their own hands.

Doug Worgul said...

Pouring another cup of coffee or another glass of whiskey is something my characters seem to do quite frequently.

Matt Curran said...

My characters have a habit of killing things. Which is perhaps a bit obvious.

In the first book a lot of the characters seem to act "gingerly", and in the second book there seemed to be plenty of hugging involved.
In the current book, because I'm dictating the text rather than typing it, there seems to be a lot of "flocking" (but that's only because Dragon doesn't recognise swear words!)

Len Tyler said...

I've noticed that when I give my characters whisky, they tend to swill it around in the glass - it usually shows they are deep in thought and/or lying. Like Alis my characters frequently fail to make eye contact with each other - in many cases they end up studying the pattern on the carpet. My carpets are clearly more interesting than my characters. My fictional dogs are always Border Terriers, and I make no apology for this. My punctuation quirk is colons, though many get edited out, so don't go looking for them. My most worrying repeated theme, however, is rather immature, ineffectual men and much smarter and more sensible women ...

Faye L. Booth said...

Will tells me that my characters appear to be addicted to certain foods or drinks - Molly drank a lot more hot chocolate in the earlier drafts of Mirrors, and there were plenty of pies consumed in Trades (there still are, albeit fewer of them). I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to documenting facial expressions, but one of them that comes up quite regularly is the "unreadable" expression, in which Character A can't work out what Character B's thinking by looking at them. My characters are also prone to making social faux pases I never intended them to make, or neglecting to deliver the appropriate emotional response at certain points.

(Alis, care to analyse...?)

Faye L. Booth said...

Oh, and on the subject of pies, as I said to Will - my defence is that the book is set among the working classes of Lancashire! I had to vary Lydia's menu, though, to prevent her suffering malnutrition through limited diet...