Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Welcome our 1st Guest Blogger: Beth Yarnall!!!

To quirk or not to quirk…

I recently read a book that had a heroine in it that was so full of quirks and oddities that she became more of a caricature than a woman I could relate to. Now I love character quirks and use them all the time in my writing. They make the character feel more real. And don't we all love quirky characters like Monk or House? But it’s easy to go too far, like that author of the book I just read.

Everyone has weird little fears or oddities that make them unique. Some of them can be debilitating and completely take over a person's life. Some of them are kind of funny. I had a great-aunt who had gotten into a car accident making a left hand turn. From then on she refused to make a left turn. It didn’t stop her from driving; she just planned out a route where she only took right turns to get to her destination. Her fear became a quirk and a funny one too. But if she was also afraid of heights, and water and puppets and telephones… well you get the picture.

So, where do we draw the line between interesting relatable characters and overly quirked caricatures? It’s a fine line to be sure and as individual as the stories we create. Often writers use a character’s fears and experiences to add conflict and to explain their motivation. But they can also weigh a down plot and keep a character from achieving their goal.

For this blog I Googled phobias and came across a list of phobias that I thought would be terribly hard to avoid- the fear of chins, thinking, ugliness, sunshine, words, colors, air and sitting, to name but a few.

And here are some real fears of things I love and could NOT do without -

Philemaphobia-kissing (What’s coitus without kissing?)

Doxophobia-receiving praise (Tell me more, tell me more, tell me more)

Chrometophobia-money (The ONLY reason to marry The Donald.)

Melophobia-music (Then Dave Grohl couldn’t be my boyfriend!)

Medorthophobia-erect penis (Egad! Say it ain’t so! Viva Viagra!)

Bibliophobia-books (That is wrong on so many levels.)

Coitophobia-coitus (How would I get my DH to buy me jewelry? Take out the trash? Do the dishes?)

Anthrophobia-flowers (This would certainly take the pressure off my DH on Valentine’s Day.)

Hedonophobia- feeling pleasure (Again what’s coitus without it? Just a big wet spot I guess.)

Yikes! Wouldn’t it be awful to have those fears? Think of what you’d miss!

Now, I feel it’s only fair for me to reveal some of my own fears and personality quirks. So here they are, don’t think less of me:

-ALL spiders must die.
-Snakes, lizards, rats, and mice-cool.
-I must be cremated because I have a fear that I will wake up buried 6 ft under in my coffin (I saw a horror movie when I was a kid where this woman had a disease that made it appear that she died-stopped heart, no breathing-then she would recover and be alive again, it happened over and over until she woke up the final time in her coffin).*shiver*
-Also I don't like caves and could never be in a submarine.
-I love to swim but am afraid of drowning when I'm not in the water.
-I'm afraid of fire but heights are okay -I don't like people (especially men) with beady close together eyes and no lips- they creep me out
-Men with really small hands-totally gross
-The butter, cream cheese and mayonnaise must cover the entire slice of bread evenly all the way to the edge or I won't eat it
-babies with dirty ears-eew!
-The Dentist-I’d volunteer to go to the Gyno 10 times before I’d go to the Dentist

There you go. I sound like a made up overly quirked character, don't I?

What are your fears, personality quirks and oddities? What makes you special?

**Beth writes comtemporary romantic comedies. She just finished her first novel in November and is working on her 2nd. She's actively looking for an agent for her first book Hairassment. **


Linda McLaughlin said...


I'm afraid my list of phobias is pretty short. Mostly I'm afraid of having anything close to my eyes, so that includes fear of contact lenses, so it looks like I'm stuck with my glasses. :)


Eden Rivers said...

Hmmm, phobias...guess my big one would be heights. Quirky characters can be fun, as long as they don't go too far. What was the vampire story where the female vamp had a blood phobia? I think it was one of the Argeneau books. Gotta love the irony, lol.

Beth said...

It must be tough to go to the eye doctor!
Ooo heights is a tough one. Does that include being in an airplane too? Gotta love a good character with funny quirks-vampire afraid of blood-LOL!

Debora Dale said...

Oh, Beth, you do make me laugh! Phobias? Well, I'm with you when it comes to spiders but I'll add silverfish to that. OMG. In fact, my main phobia goes to anything that scurries. ::shudder:: Even the WORD "scurries" gives me the willies! Other than that - tunnels. For me, entering one of those babies is like being swallowed whole... Thanks, Beth. It's nightmares for me tonight... ;-)


Meagan Hatfield said...

Hi Beth!

Thanks for coming over to chat. I love your post. I haven't read an overly quirky character yet, but I'll make sure not to write one now either. :-)

Hmm, my phobias...

Clowns. I can't stand clowns.

I also have a huge fear of balloons. Well, not the balloons themselves, but of them popping. I have no idea how it started, but it's BAD. For example: At my dh's holiday party, they had this "fun competition" where teams blew up as many balloons as they could and shoved them under this huge t-shirt. I, of course, wore the t-shirt for my team. When we're done, the announcer guy pulls out this huge horror movie sized needle. I about died when he said how he was going to count how many balloons were under my shirt. By the time he reached 52, I was shaking and almost in tears - my dh (knowing my unnatural fear) stood in front of me, holding my hand and keeping eye contact the whole time.

Anyway, as you can imagine, the circus is the equivalent of hell to me and my kids have never been. LOL!

Beth said...

I'm with you on the tunnels-it goes along with my caves and submarines. Can we also add cockroaches? ::MAJOR shudders::
OMG! It's probably not polite to laugh but heeheeheehee. Points for DH for holding your hand through it-I hope you rewarded him the good stuff!

sarahp said...

Definitely cockroaches. I'm fascinated by spiders, though they do belong to that creepy-crawly category.

I have a weird one. I'm not afraid of heights, but if I'm standing on a bridge or a ledge above water, I get a tingly feeling on the back of my legs and am afraid of falling in. As a child, I was always walking on the ledges of ponds, and I inevitably fell in. I still dream about falling into water. I can swim well, so this fear is completely irrational, but I guess I still associate being *next to* water with falling in, getting wet, being upset, etc.

Clowns freak me out. And I find Cirque du Soleil totally creepy. Their clowns are the worst!

Beth said...

Clowns can be scary. I find the Cirque clowns scary & fascinating-maybe its the weird bendy stuff they do, it's just not natural.

Rhonda said...

A list of phobias? Woody Allen and I could have a "phobe-off" and I might win.

Beth said...

A phobe-off? Like the Olympics for mega-phobes? Cool!
Is it weird that I think that would be fun?