When we pop our precious characters onto the stage of our book, one thing we need to be wary of is not to over animate them.
I did a surreptitious survey while going about my business today. I like to do these things occasionally, you know, people watching. It is worth approaching such writerly duties with a touch of caution though.
- When watching strangers if they catch you they either think you are a nut or walk away with mild paranoia that there is something wrong with their hair, clothes etc
- When watching people you know while they talk you can sometimes forget to pay attention to what they are saying…something about the maximum pieces of information your brain can process at any one time…maybe my brain just can’t process very much 😉
Today I tried to focus on everyone’s body language, and to be precise, how much nodding they did.
I found that the people I interacted with didn’t do very much nodding or shaking of the head at all, in fact they were rather boring and lacking in animation. Were these people a poor sample set? Or do people just not use their head to ‘speak’ as often as they can do in a book?
One of the things my editor pointed out to me was that I do a lot of head shaking in my book, I then went through and hacked out as many of them as I could, and it is now part of my self-edit process as something to look out for in any new work.
I wondered if everyone had some sort of animation vice. Is it a raised eyebrow a time too many? Eye rolling? Frowns or scowls? Or perhaps you have a favourite phrase you slip into your prose subconsciously that reaches out after the 20th time to smack your reader between the eyes?
So, I will leave you with my opening question–do your characters nod too much?