11.09.2010

7 THINGS YOUR CHARACTERS DO TOO MUCH

SIGH.
characters LOVE TO SIGH. everyone is sighing ALL THE TIME! "dreamily, happily, painfully, unconsciously, forcefully, desolately, adjectively," she said, sighing regretfully.

GLANCE
.
we are so good at glancing! we glance at everything, especially when we're really focusing on something! but when we're really focusing on something we'll glance really hard which would be perfectly okay except that glancing really hard isn't really glancing at all. is it?

BLINK
.
because it's so much better than staring at things.

STARE
.
because it's so much better than looking at things.

LOOK
.
because it's the same thing as having eyes that happen to be open. CUT US SOME SLACK THIS WRITING BUSINESS IS DIFFICULT

GROWL. 

i've seen a lot of Love Interests growling lately. i wonder if their mouths are hungry?

HISS
.
OY, HARRY! THE BASILISK IS COMING! THE BASILISK IS COMING!!


------
what can you add to this list, my friends? what other things are overused in fiction??

p.s. congrats to BRIAN RUSSELL (Ink)!! you have won ANY BOOK OF YOUR CHOOSING! please email me at thmafi at gmail dot com to discuss the deets!!

p.p.s. thanks for all the birthday wishes yesterday! a very happy belated (and upcoming!) birthday to all of YOU, as well!! :D :D

75 comments:

Emy Shin said...

Mine are always grinning or smirking. I'm not sure if that's healthy or sane.

Jessica Bell said...

Yeah, I use 'glance' WAY too much too. My characters 'smile wryly' a lot ... :-/

Cholisose said...

I have at least one crazy guy in my novels it seems, so there's a fair amount of glaring going on.
Instead of "glanced," I think I use "turned" a lot more.
I make an effort to limit sighs, because that's something I notice a lot in books I've read. These types of characters tend to roll their eyes a lot too. And be sarcastic.

I don't know if I've ever had an instance of growling or hissing in my novels...

Cholisose said...

If only I could edit my post. I meant to say that thanks to my crazy characters, there's a fair amount of grinning--not glaring.

Though I suppose they might do that every now and then as well.

Rachel Morgan said...

Hm... Yeah, my characters sigh, and glance, and hiss..

How about eye-rolling? Some of my characters are in danger of losing their eyes they roll them around so much!

Marie said...

Mine like to roll their eyes or raise their eyebrows.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Mine blush, flush and heat more than their physician would prefer. There may be clinics for it though, I 'll send them to a specialist at the end of the book ;)

Vicki said...

Eye-rolling, smirking, and glaring are all on my list.

Misty said...

Mine are always smiling. They're smiling so much lately, I want to crack them in the head with a rock. *sigh* Oh, oops.

Em-Musing said...

Said, I say too much. I have to trust that the reader will know that someone is talking when there are ""'s. A few well placed ones are enough. 'nuff said.

Remilda Graystone said...

After draft #800098374, I've paid attention to these, and now I just have a lot of looking and turning. Healthy, I'd think, since I can't have my main character walking in the same direction forever with her eyes closed.

Congratulations to Brian! And thanks for the laugh!

Josin L. McQuein said...

*sigh*

Once you glance, you have to blink, lest someone think you're giving them a long-term stare when it's just a short-term look.

*growl*

(What's really impressive is when a character manages to hiss a line without any hard "s" or "c" sounds.)

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Hey T,
I'm listening to a YA book on cd right now that has a gorgeous cover and got tons of buzz online in recent months. In audio form, you really hear repetitive words and phrases easily. For this book, it's, "I bit my lip." Every time I hear this used in this book, I want to scream! Sometimes, it's multiple times within a single chapter. I'm about 70% through the book and it's been used no less than 10 times. This really goes to show how reading your own manuscript out loud can help catch these types of things.

Thanks!
Marissa

Meredith said...

It seems my characters are forever turning to look at things.

Vicki Rocho said...

Guilty of the glance/look/stare thing. I'll fix it...promise. Can I finish the first draft though?

Word verification: shexted = female texting

Miss Sharp said...

At first I felt like leaving a comment but then I thought again.

And again.

And again.

O_o

Matthew Rush said...

Oi! Come on now, that's not fair, Bryan owns a freaking used book store for goodness sake, he doesn't need more books. Or at least he used to. He may have traded it in for that carrot job, I forget.

Besides, I'm only kidding. No one deserves a nice gift more than Bryan. He rules.

Summer said...

NODDING. Good Lord, their heads are going to be falling off pretty soon.

And yeah, glancing is my number one redundancy.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I'm guilty of the nodding, staring and blinking. :)

Bee said...

Twitches eyebrow.

Broods.

Rolls eyes.

Ishta Mercurio said...

You must have read my WiP, because my characters do all of these things. And they fiddle. There's a lot of fiddling going on in my WiP.

Caitlin R. O'Connell said...

"i've seen a lot of Love Interests growling lately. i wonder if their mouths are hungry?"

*dies laughing*

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

oooh, i feel pretty good after reading this list since i don't do much of those.

However, i have a lot of shruges, and runninf fingers through hair

Deniz Bevan said...

Mine nod a lot too. And turn away. And look back. And all sorts of other things. They also use the words thing, something, nothing a lot.

Can't wait to edit it all out!

Happy belated birthday fellow November baby [g]

erinjade said...

my characters "shrug" and "turn" ALL. THE. TIME.
they are getting dizzy, and their shoulders hurt. i feel bad. :(

Shannon O'Donnell said...

My characters are definitely guilty of sighing too much. I would add glaring, clearing throats, and hands on hips. :-)

CKHB said...

There's a line in a Stephen King novel where he says that a characters hisses... and then he points out that there were NO SIBILANTS IN WHAT SHE SAID! Kind of awesome.

Mohamed Mughal said...

Mine do a lot with their eyebrows....that needs to stop.

Colene Murphy said...

Ha good list!
When I started I used "umm" a lot because I thought it would make my characters seem more real. Not really really annoying...

RobynB said...

Like Summer and Deniz, mine nod way too much. I also have problems with crutch words like "actually" and "just." You'd think they were characters in some of my stories.

Jck said...

OMG! Mr Random did it again, I know now he doesn't like me *shrugs* (my characters shrug a lot to show mow much they don't care, just like Mr Random)

Alex Mullarky said...

The rise in growling is most likely linked to the rise in creepy stalker male protagonists... *cough*Edward*cough*

lbdiamond said...

LOL, yup!

My characters also engage in a lot of eyebrow movements. I got a bunch of Groucho Marx's running around.

Lola Sharp said...

Nods, shrugs.

coffeelvnmom said...

Oh yes. The glance and the look. But they have to move their eyes, people! :|

One of my characters shrugs. A lot. But that's her. (I'm telling myself that's okay... for now.)

Jaleh D said...

Blink, look, stare, and glance are all frequent words in my stories. But then I haven't successfully finished a first draft yet, so I figure I may as well use them liberally at this point and not worry about changing them.

Krispy said...

ARGH my characters do many of these things, but especially they LOOK. A lot. They're very observant.

wheresmypencil said...

After reading the list, all the comments and my own work, I am reminded of a saying "there is a reason some things become cliches."

Although I'm adamantly trying to get rid of all those words. Every time I type them a voice in my head says, you've already used that in this chapter, and the last and the one before that... lol.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Awesome. Yes, grins and smirks too. And smiles. Wow, my characters are so happy! :)

Julie Musil said...

Nodding, yep. Blinking, yep. Staring, yep. Oh, and we can't forget walking!

Dorothy Dreyer said...

My characters smile too much. Maybe my next book should have a whole world of pouters?

Marsha Sigman said...

I'm a personal fan of the lip curl. My characters have a lot of attitude.

They also shrug a lot. Sometimes I like to mix it up and have them shrug WHILE they do a lip curl.

Margo said...

Oh, wonderful post. My characters arch one brow a lot, way too much talking with the eyebrows. They also stop quite a bit. They stop doing something to make a comment or stop themselves from laughing or stop trying to figure something out. Perhaps they should stop arching their eyebrows so much. :)

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

HA HA HA!

If I weren't already married, I'd marry Mr. Random Org. Maybe I'll steal a page from Le R. and affiance the good fellow. Two times this year has he called my number... if that's not love, I don't know what is. No one night stand for us.

And my characters smile a lot. For every occasion. Plus they stick people with swords a whole bunch. But that latter one is important, you know, for character building.

Elana Johnson said...

Smile. Or grin. Or shrug. Those are the three I see ALL THE TIME that I really don't like.

gina said...

Breathe Deeply. Which is like sighing, but with an extra word. Also I do the grinning and smirking, but trying to cut back on it! Mine also knit their eyebrows a lot.

E. Elle said...

My characters scoff. A lot. Apparently they're all really sarcastic. I have no idea where they get it.

Marie Silver said...

Mine grin, sigh, glance, shrug, nod, glare, and probably a bunch of others. Trying to limit the shrugging and nodding though...

Jenna said...

Mine scowl like a room full of Snape impersonators. They're also guilty of excessive sighing and eyebrow narrowing. Evidently I have a lot of angry characters...

Julia G. Darelle said...

smirking, rolling eyes and twitching an eyebrow (c'mon, he is a very easily irritable character!) Groaning is a bit overused as well. But the worst is feeling She felt, he felt, they felt.... I have to go over my work several time chanting to myself "show, not tell" to cut out "felt"

roxy said...

Too true. Love this post.

Missy said...

Happy belated birthday! I wanted to say that yesterday, But I was unable to get to a computer (other than my phone, which won't let me post comments). It amazes me me that you're only 23 and you have achieved that much awesomeness.

At any rate, my characters tend to smirk, giggle, chuckle, and sigh too much. So they...laugh and then regret it? I think I'd better work on that.

The Name Is Ashelynn said...

I think every one of my characters do this in my current WIP.

Except for growl and hiss.

I believe I'm going to throw those in right NOW. *eye roll*

Claire Dawn said...

Mine smile way too much. It's like they're high or soemthing :(

Jan Markley said...

Guilty as charged - my characters tend to glance a lot or shot glances at each other!

Brad Jaeger said...

I read a few chapters of each Twilight novel. I think a quarter of those books is the word sigh. Or pale. Or cold.

lora96 said...

My characters enjoy:

scoffing
saying things indignantly (because it isn't enough to simply SAY them)
yearning

lotusgirl said...

Heehee. Mine smirk way too much. One has a smirk for every situation.

Anonymous said...

I shrug and nod too much.

Genevieve Graham-Sawchyn said...

How pathetic that my characters all just did exactly what you said.

Got any good alternatives? For example ... 'she sighed' ... just sounds wrong when you say 'she inhaled and exhaled' ... As long as you don't overdo it, I figure it's not a bad thing to sometimes just tell it like it is.

Great post. I'm a new follower. Thanks!

Maggie Secara said...

Seeming. They always seem to be doing things that seem like or seem as if... I know it's not just me, but I've started noticing it a lot! The looking thing, too. Sheesh! On the other hand, it's November. I'm writing really fast. I'll celan it up in post!

Conny said...

You guys (and girls) are hilarious. There were times that I really LOL. Now let me see what some of my characters do too much ... hmm, I don't really have anything new to add as you all pretty much covered it with watching, glaring, gazing, frowning, nodding, growling, sighing and rolling of eyes.

J.C. Martin said...

My characters are guilty of all that! :P And also musing, thinking, wondering, gazing, and above all else, saying.

Tessa Conte said...

OMG how do you know so much about my characters??? My NaNo MC is GREAT at sighing. And glancing. And blinking.

He also shrugs his shoulders a lot. And raises his eyebrow (because I totally can't do that so all my characters can).

I'll fix it in December. I SWEAR!!!

Feywriter said...

I'm with Tessa. My characters raise an eyebrow because I can't! LOL

Sangu said...

What about growling's sexy twin 'snarling'? Apparently all the cool love interests are snarling these days.

Or snorting. Really. So expressive, this. I don't think there is many a Harry Potter chapter that passes without somebody snorting.

Great list!

:-)

R. D. Allen said...

I think 'smile' and 'look' are high on my list, but when it comes to actions, I believe licking their lips comes too often. xD But it's what they're doing, I can't help it! lol~

Kathryn Magendie said...

I do searches for "look" - lawd, look look look, my characters look! and grin - they love to grin! *laugh* -

My pet peeves? when things course through character's veins - lawd! or flood their minds ... but yeah, we all just do the best we can :-D

Su said...

Mine chuckle a lot. I'm trying to get them to be more serious. Failing that, I'm trying to find some more synonyms for "laugh".

Dina Santorelli said...

Love it! You hit the nail on the head. I find that my characters are always "turning" -- "he turned to" or "she turned to him to say"... Aargh! Stop, already, I'm getting dizzy! LOL!

Pilot's Wife 2B said...

My characters wonder far too often. Until it was pointed out to me, they winked more than is socially acceptable as well, but I take pains to avoid the winking now.

Elizabeth West said...

Drinking, sipping, gulping, and otherwise imbibing in some sort of beverage. It gives them something to do with their hands, but I don't need to have EVERYONE doing it.

I think the reason look is so prevalent is that people are mostly visual. It's hard to remember to engage the other senses.

S.D. said...

My characters sigh way too much. Laughing/grinning/chuckling are just within acceptable levels (I hope).

Sarah said...

My characters brows crease alot.

Premature aging right there

Gary Kemble said...

Mine like to shrug, nod, and shake their heads (not at the same time).

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