The other day my husband stayed home and was working on the couch so I decided to work at the kitchen table to be close. (Cue the "Awwww"… okay, are we done?)
So here I am, typing away, lost in the world I was creating in my head with “real” people who live only in my imagination. And I was in the groove. Until…
You know that feeling of being watched? Yeah, sometimes it’s really happening.
I looked up and my husband was staring at me with something between interest, confusion and pure panic.
“What?” I demanded.
“What are you doing?” He asked, looking rather worried.
“What’s with the …” and he proceeded to twitch and jiggle and flail...and toss his head.
“I’m writing.” Seriously, what did he think I was doing?
We don’t just communicate through words, right? Facial expressions, body language, and gestures are actually a huge part of how we get our message across. (I may stumble over words sometimes, but my gestures are always spot on.)
As a writer, your job is to create vivid descriptions and draw the reader into the moment. The reader needs to ‘feel’ your characters and ‘see’ how they react. Oh yeah, and write it in a fresh way. How?
Monkey Think, Monkey Do
What do you do when someone asks you a question and you’re stalling for an answer? Do you rub the back of your neck and roll your head left and right in a “stretch”? Do you pick at imaginary stains on your clothes?
What about when you’re on the phone? Do your hands move as fast as your mouth? Do you hold the phone between your ear and shoulder and pick at split ends?
And if you’re sitting at a restaurant and conversation drags with your date? Do you move the silverware back and forth on the table? Tug at the tablecloth to see if you can flatten the crease or rearrange the breadcrumbs into the shape of Florida?
How do you make those descriptions realistic without getting bogged down in the mechanics of the movement? How do you write a movement that you’re probably not even aware you do and rarely notice when people around you do it?
I (to the dismay of my husband) act it out.
So while one character is rubbing a sweaty palm on his jeans, guess what my right hand is doing? Yup, heel of my hand...on thigh, and off we go. Another character squares her shoulders in preparation for a confrontation. And, you guessed it, I’m wiggling those shoulders and putting out there what Mother Nature gave me.
Then there are times when my character needs to react to something and the first thing that comes to mind is the overused shrug or nod. That’s when I find myself moving and grooving until that one “reaction” feels genuine.
Some scenes provide plenty of aerobic activity for brain and body.
What about you – do you act out scenes as you’re writing them? How do you find that “fresh” take on an old gesture?
After years of pushing the creativity boundary in corporate communications, Orly decided it was time for a new challenge. Three women’s fiction manuscripts later (plus a handful of picture books), it’s safe to say she's found her creative outlet.
Orly's manuscripts have finalled in seven contests including the Wisconsin Romance Writers "Fab Five" and the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America’s "Emerald City Opener." She's currently querying her most recent manuscript, THE DAY THE MERRY-GO-ROUND STOPPED.
When she's not talking to her imaginary friends, she's reading or at least trying to ignore everyone around her long enough to finish “just one more paragraph.” Orly has also joined forces with some amazing women's fiction authors to launch the Women's Fiction Writers Association.
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