August 28th, 2013

Small Actions, Deeper Characters, Better Stories!

We are delighted to welcome back The Naked Editor, Tiffany Lawson Inman from hiatus! Whoop!

By Tiffany Lawson Inman

What do you do when your character needs to wipe his/her nose?  Or wave goodbye? Or hold back a tear? Or close a door? Or smile?

            Write the action. Simple. Right?

Is your character always in character? Is your character always in the moment? Yup, these are phrases usually used in the theatre. Most commonly used by the director, yelling out to an actor, “You aren’t in character.” Or, “That’s out of character.”  Or, “You’re not in the moment.”

What do those phrases really mean?

  • When an actor isn’t in character, it usually means he/she is speaking dialogue and moving around the stage as the actor and not the character.

Example: Jane Smith the actor’s mannerisms instead of Blanche Dubois’.

  • When they are truly out of character it usually means there is something “off” with the actor’s performance and the action or dialogue didn’t fit with how the director views the character.

Example: Jane Smith acting as Blanche Dubois, moves and speaks using robotic mannerisms.

  • If an actor isn’t in the moment, then the emotion flowing through action and dialogue isn’t in sync with that specific moment.

Example: Jane Smith acting as Blanche Dubois is deadpan and stiff through her most emotionally intimate dialogue.

What does this have to do with writing and why is it such a big deal?

Small actions are big, no, HUGE opportunities for your written characters to show show show and if there is something missing, generic, or contradictory with your character and the moment, the agent will notice, the editor will notice, THE READER WILL NOTICE.

The smallest action can show personality, internal motivation, external motivation, intensity of the moment, attitude towards another character, etc.  Writing character specific action (in character actions) will boost character depth and your reader’s connection to them and the story.

Keep in mind while you are working hard to write your original and super complex or simple fresh actions, don’t get lazy and let your characters share actions. The action and dialogue should be specific to each character and each moment. Or else, what’s the point?

I feel compelled to mention this point because I’m currently reading a New York Times Best selling author’s most recent work and have come across a few speed bumps. This author deserves the title, hands down has some of the most original action and emotion and character chemistry that I have ever read.

However, I’m on page 184 and already this author has had three different characters share an action and with that action a certain attitude in the moment. Because the action didn’t always match the character or the moment – my brain tripped over that mental speed bump.

The action was a seemingly simple phrase: “I killed the engine.”  It has a certain sense of urgency and bite to it, yes? The fact is they are all three totally different characters in different situations.

In your own writing, which of your characters can you see “killing the engine?”  Probably not all of them. Off the top of my head, here are a few phrasing choices for the other character’s scenes instead of “I killed the engine.”

  • He rolled to a stop and quieted the engine.
  • I slammed my foot on the brake and flicked off the engine.
  • She sat back in the seat and waited for the engine to die.

** I have 158 more pages to go. I shudder to think how many engines will be killed in the making of this novel.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 🙂 I’m hoping-praying-and-crossing-my-fingers that this was a copyeditor’s doing and not that one of my favorite authors is getting lazy.

It’s the small stuff I think you should sweat with writing. Because those little changes can take your writing from “eh… .” to “WOOT WOOT!”

SneezeI bet you are thinking: But some actions are just simple actions, right? Like wiping a nose. Can’t all of my characters just simply wipe their nose? Of course they can.  If you want your agent, editor, publisher, friend, mother, or population of readers to think, “…eh…I guess that works.” as they put your book down and forget your name the next time they go shopping for a new juicy read.  Okay, okay, that’s a little extreme, but I think you see what I am saying here.

Think about these characters you have created. Really think. These are your babies, so you should know how to keep them in character and in the moment at all times by thinking about:

  1. The mood of the scene.
  2. The motivation of each character in each scene.
  3. The details of their personality.
  4. What words and phrases they would think (or the ones you can use in their POV).
  5. Their emotional state at that moment.
  6. If they are reacting to another character or event.
  7. If this is a character changing moment.
  8. How can you show the reader that change is happening?
  9. What can you show the reader about the character with this action?
  10. Is this an action that can remain naked and unattached?

Let’s say my characters are Stanley and Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.

For those who don’t know already, here’s a partial character description according to Sparknotes.com:

Stanley: he possesses an animalistic physical vigor that is evident in his love of work, of fighting, and of sex. His chief amusements are gambling, bowling, sex, and drinking, and he lacks ideals and imagination. Stanley’s animosity toward Blanche manifests itself in all of his actions toward her

Blanche: she is an aging Southern belle who lives in a state of perpetual panic about her fading beauty. Her manner is dainty and frail, and she sports a wardrobe of showy but cheap evening clothes.

I mentioned wiping noses earlier, so let’s stick with that action. It’s simple and a lot of writers wouldn’t think it could show much in a scene.

My version of Stanley wiping his nose:

Stanley grabbed a grease rag from his back pocket and knuckled at his nose with it a few times. He made sure to let it drop onto the table in front of Blanche.

Breakdown: Shown he has no qualms about rubbing dirty things on his face or in his pockets.  By using the word knuckled, I have shown a very specific action matching his personality. And I showed his attitude towards another character by involving her in the action. Action fits the moment.

My version of Blanche wiping her nose:

Blanche’s hands trembled as she dabbed under her nose, the worn silk barely kissing her blushing skin.

Breakdown: Showing what appears to be an emotional state, her hands trembling. The word dabbed shows a specific action matching her personality. Involving the type of fabric she is using ties in with her character and wardrobe. And as it barely touches her, you have to think about whether she needed to really wipe her nose, or if it is all a performance.

Can you imagine Blanche knuckling her nose, or Stanley dabbing his with silk? Good. Then I have done my job. These actions only belong to one character.

Do you have to go into this much detail for every little action? Heck no. Sometimes it’s as easy as a word change or an addition of a voice infused line.

Example: Character being chased through a spooky house. The action is closing a door.

Version one: I slammed the door as hard as I could.

Breakdown: Shows they really wanted the door shut. Doesn’t show personality. Doesn’t show anything about their environment. And a cliché?!?! BORING…

Version two: I slammed the door so hard I half-expected to hear an echo from the empty bowels of Mr. McScary’s house.

Breakdown: Shows the character really wanted the door shut. A little humor in character’s voice saying they expected to hear an echo, also shows exactly how hard the door was shut,    enough to create an echo. And by using the word bowels, I’ve compared something stanky, dark, and twisty to the house that this person is being chased through. Or alluded to the character being ingested by the house. And I used ‘McScary’ because it implements voice, and I have Grey’s Anatomy on my mind. LOL!

These are your characters.

You sat behind the rusted out pickup inhaling exhaust and created a story for the little old woman driving it.

You went to the amusement park with your four nephews and watched them get off the haunted ride – you created the story of how each of them handled the creepy skeevy darkness.

You painstakingly sat on the train commuting to work listening to every conversation and using the inspiration to write three back stories a day.

You are the writer.

Don’t fish out a character’s action (or dialogue tag, emotion, trait, description, or anything else for that matter) from someone else’s book.

It cheapens the experience for your readers and cheapens your worth as a writer.

As a reader and an editor I want to read a passage and say, “Hotdiggitydarn, that was amazing and original and totally in sync with the character at that moment. . . .and I can’t wait to read more!

Leave a comment today and share with us how your protagonist would wipe his/her nose in the same room as your antagonist. Or just say “hi.”  I’ll draw a name from the comments and edit the first 2 pages of your WIP. Sound good?

So, I’m sure you noticed I didn’t mention where or when these in character moments should happen, how you can use dialogue to show action, how to bring emotion into these small actions, how to manipulate non-POV actions, and about a million other teaching points surrounding this topic.

Well, this is a blog, not a class! 🙂

I will be teaching hands-on online courses this fall over at Lawson Writer’s Academy. Come learn learn learn from me about scene writing, Oscar worthy characters, emotional authenticity, writing violence, basic and advanced choreography, and dramatic dialogue.  Stay tuned to WITS because I’ll be on here again next month.

I can’t wait to see some fabulous in character nose wipes!

Thank you all for stopping by today and getting your WITS on! I am incredibly happy to be rejoining the WITS team every month. Thanks ladies!

Tiffany Lawson Inman, headshotTiffany Lawson Inman (NakedEditor) claimed a higher education at Columbia College Chicago. There, she learned to use body and mind together for action scenes, character emotion, and dramatic story development.

She teaches Action, Choreography, Physicality, Violence, and Dialogue for Lawson Writer’s Academy, presents hands-on-action workshops, and will be offering webinars in 2014. As a freelance editor, she provides deep story analysis and dramatic fiction editing services. Tiffany will be off maternity leave and back on-line before the end of the year! Stay tuned to WITS to see Tiffany’s upcoming guest blogs, contests, and lecture packets.

Check out all the online courses offered by Lawson Writer’s Academy.

91 comments to Small Actions, Deeper Characters, Better Stories!

  • This sounds like fun! I inserted the nose wipe after a sentence from my scene where the male antagonist is teaching my female protagonist how to do magic and has been pushing her hard to concentrate while simultaneously trying to fluster her with his flirtatiousness.

    With a sudden movement, he brought a handkerchief from a pocket, and wiped my brow, the other hand back on my shoulder, generating a tingle that radiated from his touch. I snatched the handkerchief and blew my nose into it with a mood-killing honk before folding it up neatly and handing it back with a smirk of my own.

    • Melissa –
      Fabulous! Great placement. Very funny and it absolutely fits her voice!!!

      And, I see from the time stamp, you are brilliantly writing before 5 am 🙂 Thanks for reading, learning, and braving the comment waters before anyone else this morn.

  • Great blog post. Great example of the nose wipe action. Great advice on another way to make each character unique. Thanks so much.

  • Great post! I’m right in the middle of revising my steampunk and so this came at a great time, thanks!

  • Thanks for this! I’ll be sure that my people don’t share actions or kill engines. 😉

    • Haha! Thanks for stopping by, Diana 🙂 No nose wipe for us today?

      • I don’t have any characters wiping noses, but this made me think of a childhood friend who had a distinctive way of wiping her nose. I’ll make something up, just for grins and because you twisted my arm so hard.

        Kerry touched the tip of her nose with the ends of her long fingers. In a continuous motion, she sniffed the length of her fingers and tucked her hair behind her ear. Jill would never let Kerry borrow her scissors or hairbrush again.

        I’m going to find a place in my WIP for that girl. 😉

  • This post was good timing for me, too. I don’t have any characters wiping their noses, but I do have several farm women using their aprons to wipe away tears, perspiration, etc. I’m off to re-think how I can make those actions more personal.

    As I’m sure you’re also aware, it’s easy to slip into letting characters use the same phrases in dialogue. I found and eliminated those recently. Now on to the actions. Thanks!

    • Oh good, Carol – I’m already making you work and you aren’t even in one of my classes. LOL

      This winter I will be teaching a dialogue course bringing in a bunch of techniques from play writing and acting the dialogue. Best selling authors can work some intense scenes using about 90 percent dialogue. And you KNOW it’s “in character” dialogue if they can do that!

  • Reblogged this on Ella Quinn ~ Author and commented:
    Loved this post on being in the moment with your characters. I hope you like it too.

  • This is fantastic. I’ve just started a new WIP. LOL, my heroine almost wiped her nose yesterday. I may let her do it.

    • Thank you so much for the repost!
      Indeed – you MUST let her wipe her nose now and you can make it OH so interesting 🙂 But don’t let that be the only “in character” small action she has.

      How exciting, to start a new WIP. Good luck!

  • Scene: Regency England 1813.Lady Samantha and her new husband, the Duke.
    He specifically told her to stay home for her safety and that of the babe she carried. He had been shot by an anarchist’s bullet and was in a weakened state, but his Regent needed his protection and he would assemble a group to protect his future king.

    She couldn’t believe he would speak to her in such anger. Yes, she disobeyed but for him to leave her now that she was pregnant hurt so much. Tears brimmed and she didn’t want him to see. Her hand plucked her ruffled cuff and withdrew a lace trimmed handkerchief which she placed on her nose and gave a hearty unladylike blow. Quietly, her finger wiped away a tear.

  • Good points on all. What’s the name of the class you’re teaching? Another question about Lawson Writer’s Academy in general — are y’all going to offer these newer classes as lecture packets eventually? I looked at “Beyond Pounding Hearts” and wanted to take it but am getting a novella ready to publish and knew I wouldn’t participate.

    • Thanks, Catie! And congrats on your novella! What genre? When will it be published?

      I haven’t actually settled on the official name of the class yet, but will have a name before I’m on WITS again next month.

      I have 5 courses I’m working on for fall/winter/spring. My lecture packets will be available a few weeks BEFORE class starts for those with time constraints, or they just want the packet (like buying a book.) But I strongly suggest “lurking” in one of my classes because of how much teaching and editing I do during class with each writer specific to what they are working on. They are hands-on classes, but you would learn a ton by lurking too.

      I know my mom is teaching several new classes this year, I’ll ask her to pop on and answer that for you. Not sure when she is offering her new lectures.

      Thanks for reading! I hope to see you at LWA!

      • Tiffany, the novella will be out mid-late September. The genre is paranormal mystery, and it’s a follow up to my debut novel, Forever Road.

        Thanks for letting me know about the lecture packets and about the benefits of lurking. I’ll definitely keep that in mind!

  • WOW! What a great post. I can’t wait to go through my WIP today and see if I can use the “wiping the nose” tactic to my characters. I loved your examples and look forward to signing up for one of your classes.
    Patti

  • I still remember my teenage classmate’s sneezes. She would go AH, AH, AH,..choo, ending with a dainty “choo” I could hardly hear. She’d probably die if she knew that’s the main thing I remember about her.
    Carolyn Rae Williamson, author of Romancing the Gold, which is seeking a new home since Noble Publishing closed last week.

  • Wonderful blog Tiffany and I love the way you took very familiar characters to make you point. You really went all out and we so appreciate that. We couldn’t NOt learn form this. 🙂

  • Tiffany – I’m so excited to see you writing, blogging, and teaching again. Maybe I’ll see you at the RMFW conference coming up? Your post is wonderful and so helpful – it gave me an idea for a showdown scene I’ve been revising between my heroine and Dragan, a sex trafficker. Let me give it a try: “Dragan’s dark eyes dilated as he walked toward me. Terror turned up the volume of my adrenaline like a hit of cocaine. My head buzzed and my nose ran. A thin stream of salty fluid trickled out of my nostril, over my fat lip, into my mouth. Whether it was blood or mucus, I couldn’t tell. It tasted the same. I wanted to wipe it clean but the handcuffs cutting into my wrists forbid it.” Thanks for the inspiration, as always! -Kimberly

    • Relaunching myself feels pretty good. I’m working on 5 hours of sleep most days, but it will get better when I get to stuff some real food into that baby’s face and maybe she will give me some more shut-eye LOL!

      Kimberly.You.Rock.

      I know who I’ll be hitting up for writing examples from now on! Sheesh!

      You have mood,
      attitude,
      description,
      voice,
      action,
      detail,
      and intrigue.

      Maybe we can meet for lunch during the conference? I’m not attending or presenting this year 🙁 that money is still paying off medical bills. Baby is totally worth it, but medical bills suck.

      I owe you lunch. So let’s chat 🙂

  • I’ve been a free-lance editor for less than a year now, but I have to say this has come up more often than I thought it would. As writers we do have a tendency to put ourselves in our books, like our favorite idioms. So this post is such a helpful article to make sure that our characters are front and center, instead of we writers, the directors.

    • Lani,

      Yes!

      I read very similar actions, dialogue, and character descriptions in many manuscripts and published books.

      We can’t afford for readers to get bored with our fiction! Have to work harder to produce quality stories.

      Happy editing!

  • Great blog. Defining and staying true to each character is such a challenge, but also part of the fun. Love your insight and examples. 🙂

  • Tiffany,

    Great blog entry, awesome basics that each writer must to adhere to.

    Writers have to know their characters’ background story and they must return to these backstories to enhance them as the story goes on. As the story develops, so should each characters’ backstory, which will make the characters richer in future rewrites. If two people in the same room are scratching their noses the same way, this turns readers away. And too many characteristics can take away from the message of what the story is trying to tell. Subtle is the way to go, though a character or two in the story might be quite outrageous with their physical humor.

    With your story’s ever-developing backstories in your computer files, print them out and lay the pieces of paper beside each other on the floor. This allows you to compare your characters and make them more unique and rich. Nuggets of information will appear to you that you will implement into your backstories, which in turn you’ll deposit into your story.

    An effective exercise I do is to place a character’s backstory paper sheets on a chair beside my computer and go over only that character in the story. I look for places in my story where I can develop that character fuller. Do this with all of your characters. Every time I do this exercise I add to each character. This is a lot of work, but your readers will respect you more as your story will reflect your effort.

    • Gosh, Micheal, would you pay for my ink cartridges? *wink wink

      Sounds like a great exercise. I have several techniques in my courses that don’t involve printing, but do involve just as much work on enriching characters during every phase of their lives on the page.

      Thanks for reading WITS today.

  • Tiffany,
    I love how your brain works. How you inspire writers to dig deep. Okay, here goes:
    “We didn’t know it was against the law.” Kim’s machine-gun-sniffles interfered with her speaking voice. She wiped her nose with her sleeve. “Are. We. Going. To. Jail?”

  • Great post! I never thought of tying actions to characters like this!

    Let’s see… a nose wipe…

    She dragged her nose across the back of her hand all the way to her elbow, then said, “So what? I don’t care what he thinks of me.”

  • This is a Great post! So funny, because the villain in my current WIP blows his nose with a handkerchief from his back pocket. I’m keeping this post pinned to my virtual wall.

  • Awesome info, Tiffany. I’m revising my 6th book and will use these ideas to help me expand (in a good way) what for me is a shorter book. I usually hit 80-85 K and this little baby stopped at 75 K. I wrote fast and spare–not my usual process, but it sure got the story on the page.
    I don’t have a nose schtick to share, but I’m a huge fan of Longmire on A & E. I read a summary of the last show of the season (no spoilers here), but one of the commenters mentioned the moment when Branch leaned down and picked up a cigarette off the ground. I noticed it when it happened and thought “Interesting.” Apparently in the first show (which I did not see), Longmire also did the same thing. A deliberate action put in to suggest how Branch was coming around (after a dreadful season of battling with his boss) to be more like the sheriff. Thought it was a very nice touch. Okay, off to make sure different characters are doing the same thing–unless it’s with good reason as with Branch.

    • Absolutely, Marsha!

      Writers need to be directors. And sounds like that director knew what they were doing when they created that small (almost ignorable) action shot. Start paying attention to good dramatic TV (Breaking Bad and the like) and you will notice more and more moments like that.

      thanks for sharing! and good luck with your characters!

    • Oh, Marsha, have to chime in – I love that one! I’m writing a note-to-self about that one!
      Thanks for sharing it.

  • Amazing post! I searched through my WIP and came up with this one: “Lyla nodded, wiped her nose on her sleeve, and turned into Sadie’s embrace.”

    • Margit, thanks for posting! Hmmmm…what else could you do here to add voice to the line?

      • Without getting into spoilers, I don’t want to make that moment flashy. I think understatement works there. I found another nose-wipe to embellish earlier in the novel though, so here you go:

        “I love you, Nick.” Her voice shook. Was he even listening to her? Why didn’t he seem to believe her? He meant everything to her. She looked around for a tissue, remembered where she was, turned away from Nick, then lifted her shirt and wiped long trails of snot on the absorbent cotton. She sniffed.

  • bonniegill

    Hi Tiffany. *waves*
    I met you in May when I was in Immersion Class. Your blog post was great. I have several nose wiping scenes in my mss. My heroine is an accident prone bad luck magnet.
    #1 She blew her nose, wadded up the wet tissue, and flung it over her shoulder into the back seat.
    #2 Abby pulled a tissue from the box sitting on the nightstand and pressed it to her nose. She hoped her bad luck would run out someday. Until then, she would just have to deal with the accidents.
    She walked to the mirror hanging over the dresser and pulled back the Kleenex. A light shade of blue mixed with purple had spread across her nose. At least it hadn’t started to swell–yet. A bright red snot bubble expanded and deflated with each breath. She twisted two tissues and shoved them up her nostrils and prayed it would stop before her date arrived.

  • Another great blog. Really enjoyed reading these, though I don’t have the mental energy to participate because…I have a cold! Thanks for taking my mind of my sinuses for a bit.

  • Merry Muhsman

    Thanks Tiffany! I always found a new nugget of information from reading your blogs. Stuff I wouldn’t have thought of, but SHOULD be thinking of. Thanks for popping in!

    • Come on, Merry, I know you have a nose wipe for me 🙂

      And thank YOU for popping in to read today. I like making writers think.

      Teehee!

    • Merry Muhsman

      Meant to say I always “find” a new nugget of information from reading your blogs. And I’m super duper excited at the prospect of signing up for one of your classes. You changed the way I look at my scenes. I think I’ve said to you before, when I was deep editing my WIP, I didn’t even recognize my own scene that I worked with you on. So sign me up!

      • Merry Muhsman

        Oh, a challenge! Squeal. I didn’t see you reply! Mara felt the drip, sliding down her nose. She sniffed once, twice, again and again. Finally, the drip was contained, but everyone in the room stared at her like she was a hound on the scent of a coon. How’s that? 😉

        • Merry Muhsman

          I woke up this morning in a subtle, but noticeable panic, recognizing that I did not rise to the challenge, but instead, answered with a whimper. Plus, I was inspired by others who have posted here. I wish I could go back and edit my reply. Since I cannot, I used my 50 minute commute to compose what I should have written. I should apologize to those who are getting multiple replies. I am taking a Margie class on visceral reactions, and so I’m challenging myself to write BETTER, STRONGER, FRESH! So here is what I should have said. And this not from a WIP.

          Darlene gazed at her cards, her visions sharpening, her face a mask of stone. She was beyond having a poker face. Even poker players could not disguise a winning hand as well as she could. They ALWAYS had a tell, but Darlene had so many tells that just when someone thought they knew, she whipped out her cards with such a snap, that even a lion tamer would be impressed.

          Her sheepish partner’s lip quivered so distinctly that it rattled the lines around her face. God, she looked old when her lip did that. Darlene tapped her heart, once, twice, three times meant heart. Dammit girl, remember that. The girl nodded.

          No one spoke. They knew better. She had the bid. Darlene’s fingers lingered on the slick card, then it happened. A drop of snot slid down the inner lining of her nose, caressing and tickling each hair. She sniffed. Go away.

          Sniff. Sniff. Where are the damn Kleenxes? Phyllis has us over for a party, and there’s no Kleenexes! Sniff. Next time, she’ll probably serve those Hostess cupcakes, because she thinks it’s so grand they brought them back.

          Sniff. Her partner’s face crumpled. Sniff Sniff. No, it’s not a sign you idiot. She wanted to scream. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. Snoooorrrttt.

          There. It’s gone. She flicked the queen of hearts on the table, expecting a gasp at her lead card. Instead, they all stared at her as if she was a hound dog who just caught sent of a coon.

          Sniff.

          Maybe not perfect, but I feel like I met the challenge with my might pen.

        • Ok, Merry. My hubby is telling me I look like a proud momma as I read your incrediblyfreshandkickinbuttfromheretothemoon excerpt. Of course I am proud! Holy hot damn! Wootwootwoot!

          And I am honored that you felt the challenge call to you in this way.

          I gotta tell u I can’t wait start to teaching this fall!

          Big hugs to you for making my morning. 50 min commutes are crap unless you use them for good, and Merry, you are reaping the benefits of that commute.

          I gotta call mom now and brag to her about you.

  • Ok. Here it is…

    Annekka’s body shook with each bone jarring sob. Tears poured down her pink, puffy, cheeks and snot trickled from her flared nostrils and over her top lip. Jedda patted his pockets desperately, yanked a large leaf off a nearby tree and handed it to his sobbing aunt. He turned away while she blew into the leaf, the guttural honk the only sound in the winter-dead forest.
    “I hope that wasn’t poison ivy or something,” she muttered, throwing the desecrated leaf on the ground. Jedda rolled his eyes and, for a brief moment, wished that that’s exactly what it was.

    Much harder than I thought…but worth it. I think I’ll polish it up and find a reason to include it in my WIP. 😉

    • Ok, little miss w – I am giddy after reading this. Fabulous relationship to see here between these two, and all because of a snotty nose. Very nice.

      Oh, and I LOVE OLI the Elephant! YOU MUST GET THAT IN PRINT and ILLUSTRATED. So super cute!

      I’m going back to read the rest 🙂

      P.s. No need for the first “that” in the nose wipe bit. It works great without it.

    • Littlemissw,

      Really nice! You added setting, senses, visceral response, dialogue, humor — all wrapped up like a present. I like your writing 🙂 Yes, polish up and add to your WIP!!

  • Reblogged this on NAKED EDITOR. DRAMATIC EDITING. and commented:
    I’m guest blogging today! Pop over to Writer’s In The Storm to join all the fun!

  • Tiffany —
    Smart blog, from a smart editor-daughter. 🙂
    Proud to have you on faculty for Lawson Writer’s Academy.
    Lots of Tiffany fans here!

  • Gaaah! I was off-loop yesterday. You know me, Tiffany. Always looking for a free lunch critique. I happen to have a snot-induced scene in ALL INN. Ready to hammer it home for me?

    Her eyes watered. Bright sun always made her eyes water. Snot tickled beneath her nose. Snot, another sun-induced malady. Mostly. Sometimes. Today.

    One hand negotiated the freeway exit, the other patted the passenger seat, retrieved a crumpled wrapper. It felt greasy, and smelled of the once-hot-but-now-rancid McMuffin she’d gobbled for breakfast. Molly shrugged. It was already disgusting. She pulled ammunition through her mouth then fired a power shot of snot. Great. McGreasy wrappers did not absorb. Grease and goop, her new skin care product smeared from cheek to slimy cheek.

    SKA-WEEEE on the upcoming classes!

    • Wow, Gloria – you got VOICE, girlfriend! Along with a handful of disgusting.
      My fault, shoulda known not to read Gloria comments before more coffee!

      Hurry up – I want to read that book in print!

      • You have NO IDEA how big my smile is right now, Laura. That compliment coming for you means tons.

        I think you know who I credit with notching my voice up with power words and rhetorical devices. Tiffany adds another stellar element when it comes to staying in the character’s voice. What a team. The Awesome Lawson Duo.

    • Gloria oh man, oh man! Thank you sooooo much for posting this!

      Hellova voice! Hellova EVERYTHING!

      Can’t wait to read more 🙂

  • True, we give life to our characters through seemingly insignificant actions. Great post!

  • What a great read!! It explains techniques of writing giving relevant examples, with a touch of humour. Very inspiring:)

  • Rose doesn’t need anybody’s help. She’s always flirting not-very-seriously with Jake. He’s sorta old-school, and feels like a gentleman should take care of a lady, but without patronizing or condescension.

    Rosie looked up from her shoes. I couldn’t tell which was wetter, her eyes or her nose. She glanced where most people would have had a coffee table, which might have had a box of tissue on it. That was as far as she got. Mid-glance, she stopped moving, bumped to a stop, like one of those Disney animatronics.

    “Here.” I pulled the cotton handkerchief out of my shirt pocket. “I don’t have tissues. I don’t use ’em, and nobody else has ever cried here before.”

    She took it from me just as an unladylike drip landed on her jeans. It wasn’t funny, and I didn’t laugh. I didn’t think I did, anyway. She smashed it against her left cheek and dragged it across her face, left cheek to right, and threw it back at me.

    I ducked. But not fast enough.

  • […] Tip 4: As they say in acting – Is your character always in character? Is your character always in the moment? Best explained at: http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/small-actions-deeper-character-better-scenes/ […]

  • This was very informative … tweeting this now 🙂

  • I am floored by the number of writers who put it all out there for me on the most random request to write a nose wipe. I guess a little humbled too. Thank you all for reading and participating.

    And as promised, I have put all of your names into a “hat” over at Random.org and out popped a winner: Angela Quarles! *Rah rah rah!!!!!!*

    I’ll contact you, Angela 🙂

    I wish I could pick a few more. Cuz, wow – you all deserve it! I just don’t have time to edit 50 first two pages! EEK! But I am happy to say I am VERY busy writing lectures, editing, reading, researching, writing more blogs, and feeding my little 5 month old girl (almost a full time job in itself!)

    Much love to you all.
    Thanks again.
    I will see you next month!

    ~always be learning
    Tiffany Lawson Inman

  • Riley

    Glass sniffled. And when she realized the there was no tissue nearby, she quickly swiped the back of her hand under her nose and wiped it on her jeans.

    That’s my main character.

    🙂

  • […] know, a few weeks ago we had fun with writing a character infused action, wiping the nose, and you guys seemed to have fun with it. So I’m going to give you all another […]