Sunday, April 30, 2017

Personality Quirks: Z is for Zealous

A zealot is an uncompromising character who fanatically pursues shis religious, political, or other ideals. One who is zealous is not considered a reasonable rational person. The object of the zealotry overrides normal social strictures, thus some are merely in-your-face offensive to you and others blow up train stations.

Historically, the word represents a member of an ancient Jewish sect that resisted the Romans until 70 CE and aimed for a world Jewish theocracy. Zealot has expanded well beyond that historical beginning. We have had all flavors of zealous folks since then.

I found an interesting etymology for zealot. The word derives from ecclesiastical Latin and originally comes from the Greek zelos meaning ‘be jealous.’ How did jealousy turn into fanaticism?

You of course can see the potential to use your religious zealous character in a thriller where heesh is trying to protect shis religious beliefs/icons from what heesh considers to be sacrilege. Perhaps your zealous character believes that the Pope is an impediment to shis religious beliefs and sets out to rid the world of him. Is your zealous character Catholic or is heesh from another faith tradition or even an atheist? How could your zealot get close enough to the Pope to harm him? Is heesh working alone or in concert with a group?

Another kind of book is murder mystery. This time your zealous character is a fitness and health guru whom many hundreds of thousands follow unquestioningly. Heesh writes books, has a video series for cooking and exercise, and has frequent large-scale workshops. Is it a façade? Is the zealot for real or a fraud pretending to be a strict adherent as a way to milk the gullible public? What if a spurned lover writes a tell-all that threatens the comfortable lifestyle and image of your zealous character? Might the spurned lover end up dead? And if so, by whose hand? Your zealous character is the obvious suspect. But did heesh do the deed?

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Personality Quirks: Y is for Yobbish

To be yobbish is to act in the “rude, noisy, and aggressive way” that a yob acts. What that means in action may vary from one person to another. I may have a lower tolerance than you for rudeness or noise or aggression. That allows a lot of latitude for creating tensions among characters.

What an interesting etymology for yobbish! A yob is a rude, noisy, and aggressive young man and the word originated in the middle of the 19th century from the backward spelling of boy. That’s an interesting way of creating neologisms.

I can imagine a family moving into a new neighborhood. The quietness is disrupted by loud music played late into the night by the yobbish teenager of the new family. How do the neighbors react when the teen discards trash on their lawns or won’t give way on the sidewalk for an elderly neighbor using a walker? Is there any way to break through the incivility and turn the yobbish young man around? Perhaps a kind neighbor realizes the yob is acting out to get attention and reaches out. Or maybe the yobbish teen is in a situation wherein he must help someone or callously disregard the need for help. What does the yob do and what is the aftermath of the choice?

Another scenario with a yobbish character could be the supervisor at a fast food franchise. He’s a Class A jerk. He picks favorites. Employees never know if today they’ll be praised or punished. Do employees plan retribution, some sort of retaliation? Do they video tape him and send the tape to the corporate management? Is there one event that pushes other employees to finally stand up to him like his humiliation of a physically or mentally challenged person? What if the supervisor’s supervisor is yobbish?

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Personality Quirks: X is for Xenophilia

 These days there is a lot of talk worldwide about xenophobia, fear of strangers, such that borders are unilaterally closed even to refugees, not just immigrants. This fear is flamed by outrageous acts of global terrorism that is meant to send the message that no where is truly safe, not your shopping mall, not your commute, not your religious building. They have been very effective, these terrorists, at disrupting what ought to be a sacred principle in any religion: help those in need.

So let’s talk about an opposite condition: xenophilia, attraction to foreign peoples, manners, and cultures. A xenophiliac would seek out opportunities to travel and to welcome those from other cultures.

Xenophilia derives from Greek xenos meaning ‘stranger’ and philia meaning ‘fondness.’

So what stories could you spin? Might xenophilia apply within one’s own country? Might a Southern belle want to know more about and be attracted to understanding the life of the black sharecropper down the road? Why not? How would that come about? Perhaps she encounters the sharecropper at the library and is curious what heesh could want to read about. Maybe the belle meets the sharecropper at the grocery store and notices heesh bought the same dress fabric. Historical or modern day, your protag could follow through on the curiosity and become friends with someone who has lived the opposite life. Welcoming that new culture with interest and zeal is the sign of a xenophile.

Or, your xenophile could be one of those extreme characters who has little innate core so heesh adopts the trappings of another culture and lives shis life as if heesh is born of the other culture. Imagine how annoying to know that someone is only assuming the garb of being French, British, or Pakistani. Your xenophile would insist to others that heesh is of another culture even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Is your xenophile mentally ill, delusional, or merely establishing a life that is more tolerable than the one born to? Does the xenophilic character remain in the other culture or does something shake shim out of it to the reality of life?

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Personality Quirks: W is for Wiccaphobia

You got this one! Wiccaphobia is a fear of witches and witchcraft. Yep, you knew that, but you may be puzzled still about the word. Why would this still be a real thing? We’re not all in Massachusetts, and it is not the 17th century.

Witches have been feared through much of history when in fact those thought to be witches—typically women—were folks who possessed more knowledge about herbs, healing, and meteorology (for example) than the average. When things are going well, calling on the witchy woman to help heal or provide protections was normal. When times get hard, people look for who to blame. And the person who is different, who knows more, who expresses non-standard beliefs might take the brunt of the anger and fear.

Wicca was created as a religious cult for modern witchcraft, a 20th century institution. Wicca, the institution, establishes it origins, however, in pre-Christian pagan beliefs and practices. One must be initiated into Wicca into a coven of other witches that can only occur after a year and a day of intense study, reflection, concentration, and practices. Wicca law holds “an it harm none.”

So what’s to fear? Where does wiccaphobia come from? Here is a group of mostly women who have chosen their own spiritual paths. I suspect it is a holdover from the prejudices and myths of the past. And from unforeseen implications of applied magick. “An it harm none” is a great goal, but sometimes, Wicca warns, bad results can occur when none were intended.

The etymology is Old English wicca meaning ‘witch’ and, of course, phobia is ‘fear of.’

You could set this story as an historical fiction pre- or post-wiccan hysteria. Your wiccaphobe might be a religious fanatic who believes strongly that shis path of spirituality is the only sanctioned one. Anyone expressing pantheism or who venerates earth-based beliefs would be anathema. So the wiccaphobe may set out to destroy what is perceived as a threat to the rightful order. Would there be violence or just a subtle undermining of the person such that the Wiccan leaves the region? Would the community rally around the witchy old lady who is so helpful or would they join the hysteria to wipe out witchcraft?

How about a science fiction time-traveling doctoral student whose dissertation is witches and witchcraft? She is a witch but doesn’t know it and her wiccaphobia stems from her unease with special talents she’s had all her life and can’t always control, a closet witch who fights coming out. She chose her dissertation topic as a way to confront her wiccaphobia fears. Perhaps her trip to Danvers, Massachusetts to collect data in 1692 results in new understandings of the period’s hysteria and leads her to accept her own talents in the 21st century.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Personality Quirks: V is for Vacillant

Your vacillant character is uncertain in purpose and/or action. And you are correct when you see a connection to vacillate. Heesh alternates, wavers among different opinions and actions. This indecisive character can be quite trying for your other characters who are seeking clear answers or stances.

Vacillant comes from Latin vacillat- meaning ‘sway unsteadily.’

How might you use a vacillant character in your writing? Perhaps your lighthearted novel includes a character who is deeply into astrology and other prognostications. Heesh uses the daily horoscope to lay out the day’s plan for business. Heesh loves Chinese food because the fortune cookies add another layer of understanding for shim, and so forth. Assume your vacillant character is a Libra. Heesh knows the stereotype for Librans—indecisive because they see both sides of every argument, thus unable to pick. Imagine the situations that can be bollixed up with your character’s waverings. Get married? Set a date? Where to honeymoon? Constant plan changes can give you fun scenes.

Another kind of vacillant character might be someone who is so insecure and so self-deprecating that committing to any course of action would be risking being disliked by others. Such low-self worth can make for a very annoying character for whom one initially feels sympathy but as the vacillance continues, others lose patience.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Personality Quirks: U is for Umbrageous

You may know someone who has “taken umbrage” or even have done so yourself, but I wager you’ve never thought of an umbrageous personality. This personality quirk is in the same family as yesterday’s truculent, but perhaps umbrageous is not thought of as negatively. After all, umbrage is typically situational rather than a constant state like truculence. On the other hand, we’ve all met those thin-skinned folks who seem to be looking for an excuse to be offended.

Umbrage come to us from the Latin umbra meaning ‘shadow’. In late Middle English its sense was a ‘shadowy outline’ which led to ‘ground for suspicion’ which brought us to today’s ‘offense.’

In the first scenario, creating an umbrageous character means finding situations/events for your plot that most people would pass off as inappropriate or uncomfortable. But an umbrageous character would take such offense as to be vocal and unpleasant about the situation/event. Perhaps someone tells an off-color story or a gender-insensitive joke. Many of your characters will look away or walk away without comment. Your umbrageous character might take on the speaker and bring shim to task. Heesh feels the offense so deeply that it must be addressed. Perhaps heesh sees shimself as the police officer for civil speech. How do other characters react to the outrage and passion of the umbrageous character? Do they cheer shim on or do they avoid shim as much as the original speaker?

In another scenario, you could also create an umbrageous character who doesn’t publicly address the creator of the situation/event. Rather, think Super Hero/Heroine. A Batman/Batgirl or Superman/Superwoman who takes umbrage and retaliates at a higher level of response. Heesh sets out to right the world’s wrongs. What motivates super heroes/heroines if not umbrage. You could create a nice paranormal or fantasy tale for your stage.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Personality Quirks: T is for Truculent

A truculent character has a short fuse. Heesh is quick to argue and fight. Heesh might even be aggressively argumentative or defiant. Truculent characters can be mercurial and unpredictable when you don’t know what shis triggers are.

Truculent is from the Latin truculentous meaning ‘fierce’.

Your truculent character could be very good at hiding shis temperament so that when heesh goes off on a tirade, verbal or physical your other characters might be taken aback. What if your protag unsuspectingly married a truculent person, one who concealed shis innate personality very well. Would heesh seek joint or individual counseling? Could the marriage arguments escalate to murder? What if the protag murdered the truculent one? Would anyone believe it was self-defense when no one ever saw the signs?

Or the truculent person could be the protag who lives next door to an eternally, and infernally, cheerful person who won’t let your protag live a life of truculence? Does heesh succeed in turning the truculence to a sweeter nature once the source of the truculence is dealt with?

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Personality Quirks: S is for Spectrophobia

We’ve all felt that little shiver at some time when an unexpected and unexplainable event occurs. A door slams when there is no wind. A piece of paper is in the wrong place. A cold chill fills a room. You know, stuff like that.

For some, those with spectrophobia, the unexpected and unexplainable are neither. Ghosts. Hants. Spirits. Phantasms. And for those with spectrophobia, these are to be feared. Some people are open to the supernatural and are willing to explore and investigate. Not so for the spectrophobic character.

Spectrophobia comes to us from the Latin spectrum meaning ‘appearance or apparition’ and from Greek phobia meaning ‘fear.’

I can spin many scenarios for this personality quirk, and here are two. One is paranormal; the other not.

A good old rip-roaring ghost story could find your spectrophobic character taking a dare to stay overnight in a haunted house or finding shimself there not knowing the place is haunted. In both cases, you have a multitude of opportunities to up the horror factor while it slowly dawns on your character that ghosts are real and they are present in this location. Moreover, a malevolent spirit could be there for any number of reasons such as hanging on until shis murder is solved or condemned to live there as a placement in hell. A frustrated malevolent spirit could create some very interesting scenes for your spectrophobe.

Another way to go isn’t paranormal at all. Your antagonist may know of your spectrophobe’s fear and set up a “haunted house” scenario with no spirits at all but with very realistic scares. The antagonist could have the purpose of driving the spectrophobe crazy with the intent of bilking shim out of an inheritance or removing shim as someone’s love interest.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Personality Quirks: R is for Rhytiphobia

Rhytiphobia is the fear of getting wrinkles. Seriously?

Oh, yes. This concern about signs of aging goes back a very long way. Beauty products meant to enhance the appearance and reduce signs of aging go back millennia.

But to rise to the level of phobia is upping the stakes. Many of us would rather not have pruney faces, but to actually fear it is on another level. Phobias typically come from traumatic events and internal predispositions, but in the case of social phobias like rhytiphobia, the causes are not well known. Maybe brain chemistry interacts with genetics with life experiences to create social phobias. We just don’t know enough yet.

Generally speaking, phobias cause a variety of external signs of panic (dry mouth, sweating, nausea, irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, and more) as well as internal reactions such as extreme dread or anxiety. Talk therapy may be more successful than medication for social phobias.

Etymologically, rhytiphobia comes from the Greek rhyti meaning ‘wrinkle’ and from phobia meaning ‘fear’.

Your rhytiphobic character could be a famous actor or model or even a politician. Make shim someone in the public eye and under constant scrutiny for appearance by others or even just shimself. Think of Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Perhaps you could do a modern take on this horror story by showing the extremes your rhytiphobic character would go to in order to maintain a youthful appearance. Is there an attic full of young runaways whose blood is systematically drawn for infusions for your character? Is the scientist running this operation tired of the pettiness of your rhytiphobe and does heesh sabotage the project?

Or maybe you can show a comic rhytiphobic character who buys every cream, pill, and powder in an attempt to stem the inevitable signs of aging. The family and friends may worry about the rhyophobe losing money in one scam or another. Perhaps your character is so convinced that a particular new process works that heesh becomes involved in the production and distribution of the product. Are there lawsuits? Does confrontation with a customer lead your character to see the absurdity of fearing aging signs? Maybe the fear of wrinkles is the surface phobia for fear of dying. Once that’s resolved, shis rhytiphobia disappears (so to speak).

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Personality Quirks: Q is for Quiescent

Whew! Slim pickings for the letter “Q”, too. But then, that’s always the case. There are some troublesome letters in this challenge each year. But that’s part of the fun for those of us who do it.

Quiescent. Dormant. Inactive. Still. Quiet. What would a quiescent character look like? I think you could go two routes in writing a quiescent character. One is overt and the other covert.

But first, it shouldn’t surprise you that quiescent comes from the Latin quies meaning ‘quiet’ and from which the word “quiet” also derives.

So what is an overt quiescent character? Everyone would refer to shim as low energy, non-confrontational, agreeable, pushover. A kind of “still waters run deep” personality. Except, when probed, there is water running deep. In your book, your overt quiescent character could be the one in the background all the time, the one you’d never suspect of an original thought. A “go along to get along” person. This character may not have an arc at all. What you see is what you get. Background. Wallpaper. Use shim as a backdrop for other characters. Other characters may be annoyed that there is no there there with this character and conflict can arise over the passivity of your quiescent character.

On the other hand, the covert quiescent character is one who puts on a front to appear to be a social critter when in fact social interactions are very painful and difficult to maneuver. This person disappears for long periods of time to recharge because pretending to enjoy social interactions drains shim. This character can have a secret life or others suspect there’s a secret life because heesh is not available all the time. Perhaps the character is in therapy and trying out various strategies the counselor suggests in order to overcome shis innate reticence. That could be played for laughs or for pathos as others try to dissect what is going on.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Personality Quirks: P is for Pyromania

Pyromania is a mental illness characterized by an obsessive desire or irresistible impulse to start fires. Pyromaniacs are not arsonists. An arsonist deliberately sets fires for personal, monetary, or political gain. For the pyromaniac, setting fires either relieves tension and/or provides instant gratification.

Famous pyromaniacs include:
Agneta Isborn Lind—a leading Thought Terrorist who conducts Fahrenheit 451 operations;
John “Pillow Pyro” Orr—an arson investigator who started about 2000 fires;
David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz—terrorized NYC, but his love of setting 1411 fires led to his capture; and, sadly, many, many more pyromaniacs.

This mental illness, unlike many others, always leads to property destruction and often to deaths. The seriousness of this illness is impossible to overstate.

Pryromania comes to us from the Greek pur  ‘fire’ + mainesthai ‘be mad’ (madness).

Your pyromania character might be the nice guy next door who is always helping out. A series of fires in the neighborhood, thought to be started by unruly teens, finds him always there first, risking life and limb to save neighbors’ property. He always knows where the hydrant is, the water valves, the ladders, and so on. He even can figure out how the fires were started, since he has a signature pyromania technique like John Orr above. Who figures out his pyromania? His wife? His teenage daughter? His best friend? Or does he experience remorse and confess when an elderly neighbor dies in one of his fires?

Another pyromaniac could be a serial fire starter who is mad at City Hall or government in general and wants to destroy public facilities. Heesh might escalate the fires from those set on the lawn to burning down buildings. What events could trigger the pyromaniac to take action in this way? Who could figure it out? Is there a reporter who notices that the same person is in every photo taken at a fire scene? Does the pyromaniac realize heesh is about to be unmasked and so burns the reporter’s condo in retaliation?

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Personality Quirks: O is for Obsequious

One might think of sycophant when regarding an obsequious character. But that might not be the case. A sycophant acts subserviently to gain advantage from influential people. All sycophants are obsequious, but not all obsequious characters are sycophants.

An obsequious person is characterized by an excessive obedient or servile demeanor. Heesh is attempting to win sympathy but does it in an unhealthy way, lacking sincerity and spontaneity. It is opportunism run amok. Often, too, once the person has gained the objective of the obsequiousness, the character may no longer fake politeness or frlendliness. Or get fed up with the role played, and tell off those previously courted.

Etymologically, obsequious come from Latin obsequiosus meaning ‘compliance’.

Your obsequious character might be a sister-in-law who drives everyone crazy because she is always apologizing, even when an apology is unnecessary. She is always doing things for others, even when they don’t ask for, need, or even want her help. You might have a big confrontation when the relatives show her tape made of her pathetic obsequious behavior and point out why she annoys them acting like she does. How does she take that? What does she do and say?

At work, you might show an obsequious character who is always taken advantage of by others. A lovable loser kind of person who wants so desperately to be liked that heesh will tolerate absurdities and demeaning behaviors imposed by others. Does this character finally realize heesh has had enough? How far will heesh go in attempting to reclaim shis feelings of self-worth? Maybe tell off the boss and co-workers before resigning? Or is heesh pushed to the edge, and one day brings a gun to work to settle grievances?

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Personality Quirks: Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissism has been been tossed around a lot in the last election cycle as some wonder if this condition has now reached our highest office. I’m no psychologist, nor do I suspect that reputable psychologist/psychiatrists would engage in armchair diagnosis. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a serious condition best left to the professionals. But as writers, we have none of those strictures, at least as long as we take care to do our research in order accurately to portray narcissistic characters in our work.

The definition of one with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (we’ll shorten to narcissism for this post) is extreme self-centeredness, vanity, and selfishness. The narcissist has a grandiose view of shis own talents, maybe even an erotic interest in shimself and shis personal appearance. Heesh craves and seeks admiration in an enduring pattern of behaviors. The narcissist cannot admit to fault either because heesh doesn’t recognize being at fault or because to admit fault would be to crack the façade of created perfection.

Narcissism, of course, comes to us from the eponymous Greek character who fell in love with his perfect reflection in a pool of water, not realizing it was himself.

Scenarios for your narcissistic character might include a model or an actor who has made it on looks alone but who values shimself unrealistically for non-existent talents. When the looks go, so do the jobs, but the narcissist character can’t accept the new reality and so exhibits more bizarre and outrageous behaviors in attempts to be back on top.

Or maybe you write a narcissistic character who forms a cultish religion and takes shis flock to a remote area where heesh can become a god (Jim Jones style) to shis followers, attracting more and more people to the supposed utopian lifestyle. Such situations rarely end well for the demagogue because heesh is so out of touch with reality. Does your character end up in a suicide-murder situation? Or do authorities storm the compound to protect children?

Or maybe you write a narcissistic character who becomes, against all expected odds, President of the United States.

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Personality Quirks: M is for Metagrobolize

A multitude of M traits. A plethora of possibilities. Veritable riches. What to choose? What to choose? Metagrobolized is being puzzled or mystified, confounded and is often used in a humorous sense.

The word comes to us through Middle French from the Greek for ‘vain’ and Latin for ‘to sift, examine closely.’ 

A metagrobolized character might be the comic relief in your novel. The perpetually confused older neighbor who makes the neighbors laugh with shis crazy antics as heesh tries to make sense of shis world by trying to figure out things in the wrong way.

Or possibly, your character might be a ditzy woman who is more body than brain and thus often taken advantage of. I’d play that one serious, and show how the world too often is unkind to those working with less natural intellect. Show her redeeming herself by revealing other talents people didn’t realize she had because all they saw was the metagrobolization of her character.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Personality Quirks: L is for Lacunar Amnesia

A lacuna is an unfilled space or interval. There might be a lacuna in the historical record, or one’s diary, so that events during that time are lost and unretrievable. In lacunar amnesia, there is loss of memory of one specific event that happens in the cortex region where memories are stored.

The lacunar amnesia is often caused by physical damage to the cortex or by psychologic factors, and can be triggered in several ways. Injury, disease, and alcoholism can cause physical damage to the cortex. Psychologic factors for memory loss may result from situations that are too painful to remember. Memories are repressed and retained only in the subconscious mind.

Etymologically, lacunar comes to us from Latin lacus, ‘pool, lake’ and from Greek amnesia, ‘forgetfulness.’

Perhaps your lacunar amnesiac character was in a car accident in which someone died. Did heesh cause the accident or was heesh a victim, too? After coming out of a concussion (or drunken fugue state), the character is charged with vehicular homicide and sets out to recover shis memories in order to prove heesh was not responsible.


Or your character might be the key to solving a crime, but heesh can’t remember anything beyond a certain point. The lacunar amnesiac might be a child who witnessed shis mother being killed or it might be a woman lying on the floor during a bank robbery who is the only one left alive. Lacunar amnesia resulted from the observation of shocking and unacceptable situations. Does hypnosis help unlock the unconscious? If so, perhaps one of the investigators doesn’t want the memory unlocked and tries to interfere or discredit the recovered memory.

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Personality Quirks: K is for Kleptomania

Kleptomania is a recurring urge to steal or it’s the failure to resist urges to steal. Most often the kleptomaniac steals items with little value and that they heesh doesn’t need. What the kleptomaniac needs is to steal items.

Kleptomania is a serious psychological disorder resulting from an impulse control disorder. Some impulse control disorders are emotional and some are physical self-control issues. Even when the kleptomaniac realizes heesh has the disorder, heesh has trouble resisting temptation. Even when heesh realizes the kleptomania is causing distress or harm to others, heesh has trouble stopping or can’t stop the thefts.

Many kleptomaniacs are ashamed and fear being outed so they won’t seek treatment for the condition. Treatment can’t cure kleptomania but a combination of talk therapy and drugs may help control the compulsion to steal.

Kleptomania comes to us from the Greek kleptes ‘thief’ + mainesthai ‘be mad’ (madness).

Imagine with me some scenarios for developing kleptomania characters in your stories.

What if a bride-to-be realizes, after many puzzling disappearances of small items, that someone is stealing from her, that she is not just misplacing items. She sets up a nanny cam for her bedroom in order to entrap the thief. When the film captures her prospective mother-in-law she wrestles with the information? Does her fiancé know about his mother? What will be his reaction when she shows him the footage? Are her family in denial? Does the bride call off the wedding, or does the groom, after the revelations with no attempt to get his mother treatment?

Or perhaps your villain could be a kleptomaniac whose kleptomania is the undoing of the criminal. Perhaps the kleptomaniac is a killer who identifies victims because of wanting something those people possess. Heesh might find shimself killing others to add to the thrill of stealing. A clever detective figures out the something missing is a clue to the perpetrator.

What if you have a kleptomaniac detective who can’t resist stealing small things from crime scenes being investigated. And what if that detective realizes that one item stolen is the key to unraveling a murder. Does heesh come forward with it, face the consequences, and solve the murder? Does heesh continue to conceal shis theft but work on the side to solve the murder and conceal shis kleptomania?

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Personality Quirks: J is for Jocund

Are you a writer looking for some interesting personality traits and quirks to create characters? Or maybe you’re a logophile, someone who loves words, and wants to collect more of them. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.

Slim pickings for personality quirks beginning with J. While there was an embarrassment of riches for the H, J had only two that I could find. So I picked one of them.

Your jocund character is defined by jokes and good humor. Someone who is cheerful and lighthearted. Yes, you are right. Jocund is related to jocular and joke. We all have one in our family. Perhaps Uncle Pete is always telling jokes and pulling pranks. Or maybe Aunt Mabel just has the sweetest disposition and the kindest words for everyone.

Jocund comes to us from Latin juvare “to delight” via Old French.

I can imagine a couple of scenarios for a jocund character.

What if Aunt Mabel were targeted by a phone scammer? She wouldn’t believe anyone would actually lie to her and try to get her money. She might make excuses for the scammer, even try to help shim become a better person once she admitted heesh had flaws. Would she convert the scammer? Or would she be crushed, her jocund attitude shattered that she had so misread another person and on top of that, now be broke?

On the other hand, Uncle Pete could be hiding his mental illness behind a jocund exterior. Many comedians suffer from manic-depressive disorder. Perhaps Uncle Pete has a very dark side at odds with his jocund side. Do his depressive episodes deteriorate into violence against himself or others?

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Personality Quirks: I is for Iconodule

Are you a writer looking for some interesting personality traits and quirks to create characters? Or maybe you’re a logophile, someone who loves words, and wants to collect more of them. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.

You’re looking at today’s word, iconodule, and thinking, “Hmm. I know a word like that. I wonder if they’re related words?”

Yes, Sherlock, you are absolutely correct in your deduction. Iconoclast is an opposite of today’s word, iconodule.

As you know, iconoclasts attack deeply held beliefs and/or institutions. Sometimes they destroy images, icons, used in religious worship services. Sometimes the iconoclast doesn’t like any images used for religious purposes and other times, heesh is against the particular religion and wants to destroy precious items.

The iconodule, on the other hand, supports venerating religious icons.
Iconodule comes to us through Latin from Greek from eikōn likeness + doulos ‘slave’.

So what might a character who is an iconodule look like in your book?

Of course, given the definition, your character could well be a religious fanatic. Perhaps heesh is stealing icons, valuable and otherwise, because of a perceived or real threat to the existence of said icons. There might be a bunker beneath shis home where the icons are displayed and venerated. People might be dying because the iconodule suspects them of wanting to get the icons or of discovering the trove and informing authorities. How does your iconodule appear to the general public? Obsessive or just a bit weird? How could your sleuth figure out the motivation for the thefts?

Another way to go is a religious figure who is more obsessed with the icon than what the icon stands for. Perhaps the Abbott or Abbess might discipline the iconodule over and over for neglecting duties in order to idolize (in the bad sense) a particular icon. The obsession with the one icon might lead the iconodule to take some drastic steps. What if the iconodule were dismissed from the order? What would that mean for shis passion? Who might try to intervene? Who would support the dismissal? When does passion become fanaticism?

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An iconodule is a real thing and writers can use it for character development from @RomanceRighter