Monster Child was watching me pluck my eyebrows the other day.
"Why do you that?" She asked.
I said, "So I don't look like a neanderthal."
"What's a neanderthal?"
After the discussion of cave men and dinosaurs, I thought about eyebrows, and how we use them in our work.
I'm sure you all have read at least one book where the hero 'quirks his eyebrow'. Or the heroine raises hers. Or someone knits them together.
I must confess I have used all three. In my latest book, each one of the major players does. But only once.
And therein lies my post for the day. Each of our characters are special to us. They become like family and with family we all have our own little quirky things that we do. Sometimes they drive other people nuts. Sometimes, they can be downright endearing.
When Monster Child was a baby she used to grab the bottom of my earlobe when she was feeding. (Very endearing and I miss it.) Now she sticks her cold feet down my bum before she goes to sleep. (Family bed, big mistake and not so endearing anymore.)
Genna in REMEMBERING YOU used to make this noise. I call it a snort, but it's not really. It's that noise in the back of your throat you make when someone does something incredibly stupid, yet funny at the same time. (We watch America's Funniest Videos every Sunday night so I am forever making that noise.)
Dr. Blakestock (in MisMATCHED) wipes his spectacles before he says something of importance. Lady Olivia (in MASQUERADE) thumps her cane on the floor to make people pay attention to her.
The key is to use them sparingly. If your hero is quirking his eyebrows on every other page we might think he has some kind of neurological disorder. If he rakes his hands through his hair during every chapter, I would think he needs a good shampoo. If your heroine dabs her eyes with a hankie more than twice, well, I think she should see an optition.
Don't get me wrong, character quirks are great to use but I recommend doing so only when it will really make a point. Otherwise it gets wasted, and the next time they do it, the reader will be saying, "Oh will you stop with the eyebrow already!"
Do you use character quirks? If so, what are they?