I always hit a point about halfway through each novel where my characters start doing an inordinate amount of shrugging. Seriously, if I don’t catch it in time, they’re all running around jiggling their shoulders up and down a few times a page. For whatever reason, toward the end of Act 2, I draw a blank on anything other than my go-to physical mannerisms.
So a significant chunk of the editing process for me involves sitting there and trying to come up with things people do with their mouths aside from pursing their lips. Or frequently gesturing behind themselves. Or indiscriminately pointing at things like the cast of a Broadway musical (that one was for you, Kathleen).
So today’s challenge is to share your ringers, the default ways in which you describe your characters and how they behave: physical mannerisms, looks, etc.
Aside from the ones I’ve already mentioned, here’s my list:
- She chewed her lip pensively
- He grimaced.
- She rolled her eyes (An overly literal reviewer once claimed that there was no such thing as “eye rolling,” unless you physically pulled out your eyes and rolled them across a table. I rolled my eyes at that).
- He lunged for the door (lots o’ lunging in my rough drafts. My characters lunge for everything, from beer to bombs).
- He gulped hard.
- She polished her glasses on the hem of her shirt. (None of my characters carry tissues or handkerchiefs, and yet many of them wear glasses that require constant polishing. Odd).
- He grinned. (Must find more synonyms for smiling. At the moment, my WIP is filled with Chesire Cats).
Mind you, many of these are fine if used sparingly. It only becomes a problem when the manuscript is riddled with the same types of description.
So let’s hear yours…and please feel free to add humor…