Monday, October 22, 2007

Neck aches, ticks and other cliches...

My characters all have cricks in their necks.

Yep. Every single of them - because all they do is glance over their shoulders!! lol I'm not kidding. My crit bud pointed this out to me a few moments ago, and when I did a Find search for "shoulder" - wow. Maybe one or two instances PER PAGE.

Hopefully, I am not alone with this problem. What ticks do your characters have? Anyone run their fingers through their hair so many times they should be bald by now? Rub their chin raw? Tuck their hair behind their ears? Shoot glances like bullets? Stick out their tongue? What humorous ticks have you found your character repeating like a bad song on the radio? (ohh don't get me started on cliches! hehe)

Tell me your hero and heroine's ticks! Meanwhile, I'm off to make chiropractor appointments for all my characters...


Erica Vetsch said... characters are always sighing...or biting their lips. And upon one memorable occasion sighing WHILE biting their lips...gotta love crit partners. :)

Timothy Fish said...

I keep noticing that the narrator in the book I am working on now has this odd habit of saying something like “that isn’t important right now” or “I don’t recall, but it really doesn’t matter.” He used that last line when he was telling about a conversation between Ellen Dawson and his wife. He could not remember if they were talking about shoes or shopping or what it might have been. I think I am going to try to pull those lines.

One thing that worries me is the number of times that I state that a character laughed, smiled or thought something was funny. A large portion of the story takes place inside of a church building and one thing there is a lot of in church buildings is laugher, but I am concerned that the people reading the book will not think their laugher justified. I just finished read a book with a character that had a propensity for using bad puns. Most of which I would have missed if the writer had not said that the other characters laughed. Tragically, even though that character liked to tell jokes, there was only one funny line in the whole book and the joking character was not the one who had it.

Right off hand, I can think of three instances where I said that someone laughed. I said that the congregation thought it was funny when he got a shopping list confused with a prayer list. I said that he laughed when he knocked the phone off the desk, making it difficult for him to talk to a woman whose mother had died. I said that he laughed when a man asked him if he needed someone to show him the way to the restroom. While at Ellen’s CafĂ©, He had just told his wife that even after knocking on the door to see if anyone was in there he had walked in on woman in the women’s restroom at church. He excuses himself to go use the restroom and as he is leaving the table his wife says, “Don’t go in the wrong one. It is the one on the left.” Several people look up, including someone he knows. This person asks, “Do you need someone to show you the way?” The narrator states that he laughed and nearly wet his pants. In situations like that, I am hoping that the reader will realize that what the narrator finds funny may not be the same thing that the reader finds funny, allowing me to use the character’s laugher to be the cause a problem that a few readers will find funny.

That is what I would like to think, but it could be that a reader will simply look at it and say, “That isn’t funny. Why is he laughing?”

Sarah Kathryn said...

Mine smile all the time. They really should quit, because their lips are getting sore.

Maybe I should get more creative with my tags after dialogue...? =)

See, there I go again with the smiling.

Hope you get those neck cricks worked out, Betsy.

Lori said...

Oh yeah. My characters have been nodding a lot the last few days. (Off to sleep maybe?)

Georgiana said...

LOL, it's so hard to get rid of the ticks. I'm with you! Although in this draft I think my character has her heart issue worked out (it's not dropping, pounding, thumping as much as last time.) But I'm sure other ticks will emerge!

Timothy Fish said...

Sarah Kathryn said... “Maybe I should get more creative with my tags after dialogue.”

There is an exception to every rule, but in most cases, the only tag you need is the character’s name and the word “said.” In some cases, it is best to leave it off completely. This goes along with the basic rule that a writer should show instead of tell. By using tags we may be telling the reader that a character is laughing or crying or astonished, but we may be failing to get the point across because the reader doesn’t really see the laugher or the tears or the surprise.