Friday, October 22, 2010

He shrugged, she nodded, he laughed...

Tip of the day: Make pumpkin bread and then eat it. One of my favorite things about autumn is pumpkin bread!

I really, really, really hate having to think about what people are doing while they are having a conversation.

Does it really matter? I know, I know, it kind of does.

The more a reader can picture the characters in his/her head, having the conversation they're having, the more real it will seem.
But. BUT... I just want to write the dialogue!! I don't want to try and figure out what the characters are doing *while* they are saying the words.

And then, it seems like when I do try, I fall back on my old standards and I end up having nothing but bobbing heads throughout my book.

I think what's hard is that as you are telling the reader what the characters are saying, you (the writer) should know what each of the characters is feeling and THEN relay those feelings through body movements and non-verbal cues.

I can't even tell you how difficult this is for me. Is there something wrong with me?


Is there anything I can do to make this easier on myself? Should I just write the dialogue, letting it flow, then come back later and fill in the other stuff (what is that "other stuff" called anyway?)

Please tell me I'm not the only one who struggles with this. And please, if you LOVE writing the non-verbal stuff and have tips, I'm listening (and nodding. And smiling. And...)

 ~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career


Rachel said...

Oh I hope I remember to come back to this post later to see any references people suggest. The only thing I am doing to try to help me out of my rut of nodding, smiling, laughing, shrugging, etc IS going through all the books I read (and I read several a week) and writing down any movement or action that stands out to me, is unique or different or really speaks their emotions to me. I have a major list I am compiling with all of these. I am hoping that I won't use these verbatim BUT that they will spark creativity. I also LOVE This site: AND this one:
For figuring out movements that correspond to their emotions.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

First off, I do think you have a good idea about writing out the dialogue first and go back to fill in the rest, esp. if that's the part that flows most naturally to you.

Observing real life people and take notes has helped me on occasion.

It also helps me to visualize the scene and characters as I write.

But I think the easiest, most concrete fix is to give your characters an activity to do together while their having the conversation...first off, it adds more movement to the scene, which is good anyway, and that activity can add a layer to the non-verbal communication (gestures, facial expressions, etc) that you probably couldn't have come up with on your own.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Oops! I meant, "they're having" (not their)in my last para.

And I will definitely be checking out those websites Rachel mentioned.

Robert said...

I have the same problem. It always feels like my characters are shrugging and nodding at each other.

What Jennifer said about giving characters an activity is a good idea, as long as the activity is natural to the scene.

Anabelgonzalez said...

Well it is difficult but for me is easier when I write first all de dialogue then I read it and try to picture in my mind, konowing my characters what they would do to each new phrase. And then I writte all the reactions. Sometimes when I don´t know what to put I make them do something if the scene can take it. Hope it helps!

Kate Fall said...

I'm almost glad not to be alone in this struggle! I'll be checking out Rachel's sites too. Sometimes I'll go back later and add internal dialogue, like the funny comments that occur to my main character that s/he won't say out loud during the conversation.

Jengt said...

I have no suggestions because I have this same issue with my writing. I tend to have a lot of she noddeds and I looked ups. :)