One of the most challenging aspects of writing is keeping it fresh – especially in terms of character actions during dialogue, etc. In a first draft, my stuff is filled with characters crossing their arms, raising eyebrows, rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. Nothing wrong with these actions, but if they are all you can produce – your readers will get bored and your characters will be flat, flat, flat.
This weekend I accompanied my basketball coach husband and his grade 9-10 team on a tournament outside of Calgary – a six hour bus trip there AND back. It was fun. The guys were big goofs and I took the opportunity to do what any YA fiction writer – without kids of her own - would do – I took notes.
During the weekend I watched how the kids interacted, how they made fun of each other, helped each other, and how they moved through the world. I now have pages of “teen” actions to choose from – some are unusual, some are funny and some are even a bit sad. And yes, I did see the crossed arms, rolling eyes, sure I did – and that’s why I’m not saying you should cut every single one, but put your observational skills to work and find some nifty body language. It’s out there.
On a scale of 1 (total clicheville) to 10 (original/quirky) how do your character's actions score?