Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Too Much of Anything...

I've officially started the second draft of After the Fall, which means that so far I've transferred my beta's comments into the "Second Draft" file and made all the easy changes. Today I'll begin the actual rewriting/editing. This may sound odd to some people, but I like to have everything prepared before I dig in -- the same way I like to have all the ingredients spread out on the counter when I'm cooking.

In my first novel, The Other Side, a kind beta reader pointed out (very gently) that everyone was "looking" waaaaay too often. Sure, there was an occasional glance or gaze, but the majority of their gestures focused on (*snort*) their eyes.

This time around, my characters' main problem seems to be their hair. (Sorry with the puns -- I amuse easily, remember?) The stroke it, twirl it, and the most common offense, they run their fingers through it. Over and over and over. Perhaps this is because I tend to play with my hair a lot, plus one of my characters is a teenager girl and I know they can't keep their hands off their tresses.

Whatever the reason, I need some new gestures. I did a Find and made the comment "HAIR!" at every instance. There were a lot. I also discovered that I use the word "chair" a lot, but since they only rake their fingers through a chair once, I don't think it'll be a problem.

(I also discovered that including a space before and after the word you're searching will prevent this from happening.)

I'm sure I've asked about gestures that you overuse, so do you have any that struck you as really funny, or completely impossible?

12 comments:

Robin said...

I can't believe I'm the first commenter! This is so exciting! I'd like to thank my mother, my sons, my husband. Oh, and my dad who wakes up really early.

My characters smile wryly and roll their eyes a lot. ;)

Melanie Avila said...

Robin! I know, it's like an alternate universe or something!

I've dropped almost all eye references after my first novel, but their smiles all seem to be in the vein of "the corner of his mouth lifted into a smile" or something to that effect.

Robin said...

(He Robin) What about "Scratching his backside." as in "He contemplated putting a bullet between the eyes of his girlfriend as he gingerly scratched his backside." or "He sat patiently, scratching his backside, as he waited on the train."

Janna Qualman said...

Mine hug and embrace and wrap their arms around each other a lot. I'm a hugger and even I'd get sick of all that arm action.

Bella has just had her second cup of blood in Breaking Dawn. And I.am.disgusted.

Lisa Marie Miles said...

I do the same thing. I have a great book I refer to when I run out of phrases. It's Building Believable Characters and it has things like, face twisted in anguish or he gave a hoarse chuckle. It keeps me from being repetative. In my second draft at least.

JLC said...

Commas, commas, commas, and ,,,

I need to really REALLY watch my comma usage when I write. I don't know why, but apparently my 'inner writing voice' has a lot of pauses. ;)

Good luck with your second draft!!

Nadine said...

My characters always feel things in their stomachs. "Her stomach churned, a knot formed in his gut, her stomach flipped, a wave of unease began in his stomach, etc." I think it's because I'm so centered around my stomach and feel things there, but for each character to do it is a little unbelievable. I need to think of somewhere else that my characters can feel things.

Melanie Avila said...

(He) Robin, that's hysterical. I can't think of any places I can actually use that in my wip.

Janna, you can never have too many hugs! Well, maybe. And ROFL at Bella. That part was extra gross for me too b/c I kept picturing it as the consistency of a cross between tomato juice and tomato sauce. But that probably doesn't help you...

Lisa, that sounds like a GREAT resource! I usually run through a list in my head but an actual list would be very helpful.

JLC, maybe that just means you're extra thoughtful. You know, because you pause (and pause, and pause) to think about what you're going to say.

Nadine, that's funny. I didn't notice it while reading your book (at least I don't recall noticing it) but now that you say that, I remember a lot of stomach holding. I'm guilty of that too. And excessive breathing.

I'm LOVING all your quirks!

JLC said...

Pfft! I am such a dork. I don't know why I was mentioning commas as a 'gesture'. *Blond'e moment*

My characters tend to 'furrow their brows', usually because strange things are happening and they are trying to figure it out. }:/

Melanie Avila said...

JLC, is it bad if I admit I didn't even notice? I wrote this last night so I was thinking I'd asked about writerly ticks, not just gestures.

I've got some furrowing going on too...

Erica said...

So crazy. I also have my characters look a lot too. There's really only so many ways someone can look at something without it sounding kooky... gaze, glance? I can't think of any more.

My characters also "walk over," and lean against things way too much. I also have the hair thing too, but it's the guys doing it.

Great post! Good Luck with the editing :)

Melanie Avila said...

Erica, my fix from people looking a lot is I have them "turn to face him" and that sort of thing. Then you can show that the character is looking without saying it. But I have to be careful not to say that too often too.