Friday, February 13, 2015

Superstitions and Characters


I don’t think of myself as superstitious, but with today’s date being Friday the 13th, it seemed like something to explore.
I’m sure most of us can recite at least a dozen or more common superstitions like Friday the 13th, black cats, and walking under a ladder (Seriously? I think that one doesn’t qualify because it’s kind of a no brainer). So I went in search for ones that were more esoteric (and new to me).
From www.Corsinet.com I found these 13 little gems:
  1. An acorn placed in the window will keep lightening out.

    Lightening Protection Acorn

  2. It’s bad luck to place a hat on a bed.

    Hat (NOT on the bed)

  3. Wearing a blue bead protects you from witches.

    Witch Protection Blue Bead

  4. Three butterflies together are a sign of good luck. 

    Three Good Luck Butterflies

  5. If you drop a comb while combing your hair, you will have bad luck (uh-oh, my hairstylist dropped three combs on Wednesday!)

    Comb NOT Dropped!

  6. Wear new clothes on Easter for good luck all year (Barbie doll optional!).

    Easter Dress (New!)

  7. It’s bad luck to cut your fingernails on Friday or Saturday (who knew?)

    Fingernails (NOT cut on Friday or Saturday)

  8. Ivy growing on your house protects the inhabitants from witchcraft and evil (I don’t think Ivy grows in Florida, does it?)

    Safe Ivy Covered House

  9. Don’t knit a pair of socks for your boyfriend or he’ll walk away from you (well yeah, given the way I would knit them, I could see why!)

    Boyfriend-Ending Socks

  10. A mirror should be covered during a thunderstorm because it attracts lightening (hmm, I wonder if the acorn in the window would trump the mirror?)

    Add Cover Before Storms

  11. If you use the same pencil to take a test that you used to study with, the pencil will remember the answers (how come I never knew this when I was going to school?

    Answer Pencil

  12. If you sing before seven, you’ll cry before eleven (jeez, is this a comment about my singing, or what?)

    Singing AFTER Seven!

  13. The person in the middle of a photo of three will be the first to die (guess I’ll make sure we have two or four people in all our future pictures!)
    Doomed Middle Penguin

So how can you use superstitions in a romantic suspense? Here are a few ideas:
  • Superstitions, especially quirky ones, can add more realism and characterization (complementary or at seeming odds with your character’s personality?) A very pragmatic character could have an odd superstitious quirk.
  • Use to foreshadow. If a character habitually says or completes a ritual but his or her normal routine is disrupted, this can cue the reader that something bad is going to happen. Play it up to a specific outcome—like normally telling someone not to get caught and then that person is caught, or not reminding someone to drive safely and there is an accident…
  • Use a superstition that foretells death, like dropping an umbrella on the floor means there will be a murder in the house. Even if your readers aren’t aware of this, one of your characters could make that observation (to the amusement and or irritation of the investigators).
  • Superstitions can inspire story or plot ideas. Just reading through the list of superstitions gave me ideas for my Steampunk series!
  • Think long-term in a book series. Plant little superstitions throughout the series arc building to a final incident that ties them all together (would work very well in a paranormal, futuristic or science fiction) (Steampunk of course!)

    Steampunk Dirigible

Well, there you are, some positive ways to use superstitions on this Friday the 13th. And here is my favorite picture: a black cat, a ladder, and books!

Cats and Books!


 
 

 

6 comments:

Sandy Parks said...

What fun. Loved the list of superstitions and relating them to today (Friday 13th) is...well, at least I wasn't signing before 7 and I won't put a hat on the bed. LOL. Great ideas to add a little suspense. Thanks, Sharon!

Anne Marie Becker said...

How interesting! Thirteen was always a lucky number for me, so I don't sweat Friday the 13th. Maybe it's because I knock on wood? LOL I love the idea of using these in a suspense novel!

Wynter said...

Great, timely post! I consider Friday the 13th a lucky day. One of my books, Employee Relations, features a heroine who relies on luck, so I've researched a lot of these. There are so many - it's mind-boggling!

Rita said...

Sharon! This is wonderful. I can tell you the blue beads and ivy work. Never been bothered by witches. Unless you count the ones you spell with a B. Also eating a lot of garlic does keep the vampires away. Never been bothered by them either.

Sharon Calvin said...

My lucky number is seven--and I've owned three black cats without any mishaps. I can't say 13 has been unlucky, or lucky for that matter. But it is amazing how many superstitions are out there!

Clare London said...

A fascinating post! And some really good ideas for my upcoming mystery series - if and when I get writing :). I love the way some of the most ludicrous things are taken so seriously on 13th. That said, I didn't even realise it WAS Fri 13th until this afternoon. Does that make me immune, like April 1st?!