By: K.M. Weiland
Incorrectly describing character movements ranks surprisingly high among common writing mistakes.
Within the confines of a story, a character can do only three things: he can think, he can talk, and he can move. Out of the three, the first two lend themselves most gracefully to written literature, since words are their very foundation. Movement, although no less important, is a little trickier.
You might think the most difficult aspect of describing character movements would be the descriptive challenges of showing readers exactly what your characters are doing with their bodies.
But, actually, the most difficult part is simply remembering to describe those movements in the first place.
Like vanishing settings, less than thorough
character choreography can end up leaving readers
with either nothing to imagine or, even worse, strangely
nonsensical actions in which characters appear to jump from one side of the
room to the other or magically end up with a prop in a previously empty hand.
Are You Really Describing Character Movements?
Writers see their stories in perfect Technicolor, right down to the tiniest detail. We see the gold flecks in our heroine’s green eyes. We see the frayed seam in her kid’s sock. We see the expiration date on the milk she’s pouring
in his cereal bowl—even before they
both gag at its sour smell.
But here’s the sticky part: our readers don’t see all this stuff.
Yes, their own imaginations can and should fill in the blanks. But they can’t paint on the canvas unless we’re giving them the proper paints and brushes. Readers may not need to know about the gold flecks, or the frayed
seam, or the expiration date—but they do need
to know whenever you character makes an important move. Take a look:
. . .
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