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Transcript of Gesture crutches
Tools for finding crutches
Word 2003 & 2007: AutoSummarize
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!
• 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)
Eyes (narrow, widen, light up, etc.) & gaze
Lips (pursed, pressed into a line)
Specifics: frown, glare, glower, stare
Strategies to fix the top 10
Move to dialogue
Change the narrative mode
Use a synonyms (within reason)
Focus on the underlying emotion/message
Cultivate a body language bank
Change the body part
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
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.
Good critique partners
and perhaps best of all . . .
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