Mannerisms & A Blog Fest Post

Friday, April 15, 2011

Picture Credit
We might not always think consciously about our characters’ mannerisms, but they’re important to storytelling and we use them in a variety of ways.

To distinguish between characters.
Each person in our story should be unique in their actions in some ways. Maybe your female lead twirls the ends of her hair when nervous or gets heartburn.

To keep actions constant for reader recall.
If your story is peppered with a multitude of characters, one way of keeping them apart is to give each character something that is unique to that person only. How about a character who refuses to meet other people’s eyes in a group setting?

To avoid action in a vacuum.
Add movement to help readers with physical character placement in your setting.

To show personality traits. Maybe you main character makes people nervous and grinds his teeth (impatience) when he comes across timid people who stutter when speaking to him.

Useful links:
Creating Credible Characters–Mannerisms and Quirks
Giving Each Character Unique Mannerisms
Developing Character Traits: Mannerisms

Curried Goat
On the menu today is mutton or goat meat.  One of our favourites is curried goat. The mutton is seasoned with curry, among other spices, sautéd and then simmered until cooked. Most people add diced potatoes. Curried goat is eaten with buttery white rice or green bananas and other starchy foods.

Mallah chicken is a dish that came to us from the Chinese.  If you like spicy food this dish is for you. The chicken is marinated in a soya sauce mixture and then sautéd. It is then simmered with nuts, hot pepper(s)/sauce and a little sherry, which is added at the end.

Rolling Calf
Wendy Tyler-Ryan in hosting her Anniversary Blogfest and the rules are  - write a  50-500 word scene or flash fiction with a dark feel. You must use all of the following 'M' words in your piece, mist(y), mambo, moon, musk(y), mongrel, myth. See my story below. Note that Rolling Calves are mythical creatures – ghostly bulls with blood-red eyes. To facilitate this story, I’ve changed the eye colour to green. Enjoy!
 Rolling Calf Encounter

“What the heck we doin’ out here on a moonshine night?” Kahini asked, crouched behind a tree. “Rolling calf my butt. Never heard such nonsense.”

“Shhh!” His brother, Shomari, put a finger over his lips and pointed with his other hand. “Over there. Wait ‘til the moon comes out from behind the cloud. You’ll see.”

Kahini rubbed his hands up and down his arms to ward off the cold. The leaves shook in the tree above them, battered by the breeze. Something slithered along one branch. In the darkness, it looked as big as a mambo. Probably a tree snake.

To their left, the bushes moved and then steadied; the rattling of a chain carried on the night air. In the mist, a shadowy figure approached them, low to the ground, its eyes an eerie green. It grunted and pawed the dirt, spreading a musty odor.


Kahini cut through the bushes, the creature running hard on his heels.  Heart pounding, he clawed at the cane fronds hugging the path. When he was sure he would collapse, the creature behind him yelped and ran in the other direction.

Shomari emerged from the darkness, panting hard.

“Jeez! Rolling calves really exist!” Kahini yelled.

Shomari giggled and bent over holding his belly, body heaving with laughter

“What’s so funny?” Kahini asked, wiping sweat away from his forehead.

“You!” Shomari said, holding up a length of chain. “Those things don’t exist. It’s a myth. The rolling calf you were running from is just a mangy mongrel.”


  1. Great tips on mannerisms...they are invaluable to characterization!

  2. fantastic and the food... oh the food...

  3. Great reminder. This is something I still need to work on. I tend to overlook mannerisms.

    I do believe they're important, but I think it's easy to overdo them, which might make the writing feel less authentic.

  4. Thanks, Damyanti.

    IZombie, we do love our food here in Ja.

    K.C. I agree it's possible to go off the deep end, which is where keen editing comes in

  5. That food looks delicious. I wonder how my character would eat a curry. Hmmm!

  6. Yum Yum you always have a great food idea. My great grandpa loved mutton. Thanks for the reminder about mannerisms. I feel like this is an important part of who the character is.

  7. Rosland, curry can be flaming hot.

    Josh, No problem! Yeah, the gestures we make does say a little about us.

  8. Hi: Came by to read your entry for "M" blogfest, but this was cool, too.

  9. Your entry was such a wonderful read, the ending was unexpected, humorous and just brilliant. Hope you have a great week-end!

  10. Hi,

    Good mannerism tips! ;)

    Blogfest post hilarious! :)


  11. Seriously, J.L., you didn't have to post for the fest. But, I'm glad you did. Your piece is really cute and very well written. Thanks. I enjoyed reading it.

  12. Great tips for mannerisms....

    Humorous entry for the fest.

  13. We all have our little quirks, and so should our characters. Thank you for the tips.

    Enjoyed your entry too.

  14. I'm definitely going to remember those tips on mannerisms when I get to the edit of my book (still pumpin' out that first draft) And, mmm, that curried goat looks delicious! I'm salivating...

  15. I love the twist at the end. Great job on the challenge!!

  16. Siv, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!

    Francine, glad you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for dropping in, Carrie.

    Wendy, no problem. I like keeping my word when I say I'm gonna do something.

  17. Michael, glad you liked them.

    Ann, that's so true. We are have that little something about us that's special.

    Melissa, I hope they help you.

    Thanks, Josh!

  18. Great tips!

    I am a non-fiction writer but finding ways to make the people I cover compelling is necessary as well.

  19. All great points on mannerisms. I try to do that, particularly giving them quirks to signify their emotions without saying "X was stressed".

    Also really enjoyed your entry for the blogfest. I love the balance of the dark and the light. :)

  20. Rosie, good point on showing instead of telling. Thanks for your comment.


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