Wednesday, January 6, 2010

He Laughed

I was going through Addiction (again) and found something disturbing. I try to keep my characters believable-I want them to feel real and for my reader to see them in his/her mind. I don't think all they do is laugh. I saw a lot of this.

He laughed. "Dialogue here"
She smiled. "Dialogue here"
"Dialogue here." He laughed at her innocence. "Dialogue here."

Uhm, this story isn't particularly funny, how come all they do is laugh at each other? Okay, it wasn't that bad, but it was noticeable, which meant revise. Even if I am somewhat of a hermit since I moved here, I do watch people in general. I notice nervous ticks (one person I saw at the grocery store had an uncontrollable shoulder movement, I felt horrible for this person), brushing stray hair out of the face, putting your feet up on the chair next to you, gripping a couch from pain (that was me...tooth problems)etc. etc.. You get the idea, don't you? I bet you do.

We do more than laugh. Or sigh. Our stories have to reflect that. We can't only allow them to do certain things and hope our readers insert some human like traits. We must give them that flawed human tendency to bite their nails, or tap their foot. We have to tell our reader that Joe Gorgeous looks in the mirror constantly, or combs his hair obsessively. Why? Because....You know when it's real.

How about you? Do you see some areas in your WIP where your characters aren't really doing anything? Get them up, move them around, do something with them and you'll find your story moves a lot easier.


  1. My characters are always smiling/grinning a lot in first drafts. That's okay, I let my first drafters do what they want. That's what the second draft is for. Just start thinking of alternating dialogue tags between, said, an action, a thought, or no tag at all. Keep it in where it is important that the reader know that they laughed - lots of different type of laughter out there, nervous, bitter, amused, sarcastic, etc.

  2. My characters are just the opposite--they're always upset! For whatever reason, I find it easier to write the dark side of emotion (depression, anger, jealousy). I'm working on injecting my characters with some happiness too!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have lots of 'he shrugged' or 'she sighed'. I've weeded most of them out, but they still seem to surface way too often!

  4. Angelia, I agree :0) I've learned to laugh, rather than strangle myself, about my first draft. First attempts, etc..
    Sarah: Perhaps we should get together. LOL My short stories tend to always be pretty dark. I swear it's not a reflection of my childhood.
    Susan, Shrugged, forgot about that evil one! Yes, I have those a lot too. Of course, teens and pre teens shrug alot anyway, don't they? LOL

  5. Such great points. I have some of this in my manuscript and admit, its a touch overdone in there. haha.

  6. I'm getting much better, but I used to use so many dialogue tags it was exhausting to read! I eliminated thousands of words of dialogue tags in one editing round and it reads so much better :)

  7. That's a great idea to watch people and see how they move when they talk. My characters exhale way too much.

  8. This is so true! I found that a lot myself!! I usually try to have them doing something while talking so I don't have to even put tags on the dialog... I just give the quote then tell what they are doing. "You can't have that." I hand the cereal back to Ashley...

    Homes are a great place for dialog! there's so much to do! clean, fold laundry, cook, wash dishes... Can you tell I'm home a lot? :)


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