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Gesture crutches

Presentation from LDStorymakers 2014 writers conference (more resources: http://jordanmccollum.com/2014/05/resources-gesture-crutches/ )
by

Jordan McCollum

on 2 July 2015

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Transcript of Gesture crutches

Gesture crutches
Tools for finding crutches
Word 2003 & 2007: AutoSummarize


Collecting crutches
FIND and CUT and PASTE and FIND and CUT and PASTE . . .

700 clicks and keystrokes later . . .

the MACRO was born
A bit of code, like an add-on, to automate a process or action.
What are gesture crutches?
Overused gestures—they become meaningless.

We don't want meaningless words & gestures in our stories!

We use crutches when we’re lame. Gesture crutches? They’re often a symptom of writing that’s limping along. Don’t let your writing limp! Make it run, jump, dance and sing!
Eradicating crutches
• patterns (she smiled in joy, she smiled in gratitude, he frowned in disapproval, etc.)
• echoes (“my heart kick starts” and “my pulse jumpstarts,” especially fairly close together)
• uses too close together
• uses that don’t make sense (could be the lack of context, but I make a note to check)
• uses that aren’t necessary
• uses that are awkward
• uses that could be fresher or more powerful
• uses that are “bare” and could just be filler action tags: i.e. Jimmy frowned. “What do you mean?”—punch up, freshen, replace or cut. (Gasp! You could use a dialogue tag!)

Top 10 gesture crutches
Nod & head shake
Smile (and grin and beam and smirk...)
Eyebrows (raised or furrowed) (brows too)
Shrug
Eyes (narrow, widen, light up, etc.) & gaze
Laugh
Sigh
Lips (pursed, pressed into a line)
Face/expression/look
Specifics: frown, glare, glower, stare
Strategies to fix the top 10
Delete
Move to dialogue
Change the narrative mode
Use a synonyms (within reason)
Focus on the underlying emotion/message
Use subtext
Cultivate a body language bank
Change the body part
Punch up
Personalizing your characters' gestures
Describe gestures in her POV
Give the character a trademark gesture
Dig into the character
Look at scene's emotional set
Observe
Use real-life patterns
Get up & act it out!
Body language is key to conveying meaning in real life and in fiction.

Nonverbal cues convey the vast majority of meaning: tone, proxemics, gestures, expressions

Well-written body language conveys meaning without resorting to gesture crutches.
Finding
Fixing
Margin tracking

Good critique partners

and perhaps best of all . . .
Message
Description
Figurative
Digging in
Get to know your character
What are they like physically? How does that impact their movement? How do they feel about that? Look at their past and their present.
Basic details >> Specifics >> Personalized
So what? to reach inner value/core truth
Value >> Trait >> Mannerism
Full transcript