Saturday, July 12, 2014

LDStorymakers Notes: Gesture Crutches

This class was taught by the very cool Jordan McCollum. I was late because I underestimated the amount of time it would take me to check out of the hotel and put my bags in the car in the rain. So not only did I have to walk to the only seat available at the very front of the room while everyone watched, but I missed the first part of the class. :(

Fortunately for you, the full presentation can be found here on her blog.

In the first part of the class (the part I missed), she talked about using macros to find your gesture crutches. If you don’t know what a macro is, you’re missing out on what I think is one of the most powerful tools MS Word has to offer. I use it all the time at work and it saves me hours. Hours, people. That’s not an exaggeration. It’s also a great tool for editing. Jordan blogged about it here, if you want more info on the awesomeness of macros.

And now for my notes. :)

What to look for:
·         Uses that fall too close together
·         Repetitive gestures
·         Patterns
·         Echoes
·         Uses that don’t make sense
·         Uses that aren’t necessary
·         Uses that are awkward
·         Uses that are bare – He nodded (could just be filler)
·         Uses that could be fresher or more powerful

Strategies to fix:
·         Delete
·         Move to dialogue
·         Change the narrative mode
·         Use synonyms (within reason)
·         Focus on underlying emotion/message – What are you trying to convey?
·         Use subtext
·         Cultivate a body language bank
·         Change the body part
·         Punch up
·         Use something old in a new and fresh way

Personalizing character gestures:
·         Describe in her POV
·         Give character a trademark gesture
·         Dig into character (see below)
·         Look at scene’s emotional set
·         Observe
·         Use real life patterns
·         Get up and act it out

Digging in:
·         Get to know character
·         What are they like physically? How does that impact their movement? How do they feel about that? Look at their past and present. Ex: Tall person—how does he carry himself? What does that say about him?
·         Basic details—specifics, personalized
·         Ask So what? to reach inner value/core truth
·         Value—Ex: feels not good enough/average
·         Trait—Ex: general attitude timid/cover with bravado
·         Mannerism—Ex: way that he walks, way he holds his head
·         Does he want to stand out?
·         Capturing a vision of character as an integrated whole

You don’t need to delete every smile and nod, but they start to lose meaning when overused.

And that’s all I have. I hope that was helpful to some of you. Be sure to check out Jordan’s website and her books.

In the comments, tell me your go-to gesture crutches and your methods for making them work for you.


Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Thanks for sharing this, Abby! In revising OTH right now, I've found my "nodding" happening way too often! Great tools on how to keep from being repetitive.

Toni Kerr said...

Great post! And funny thing-- I totally forgot about figuring out how to use macros-- I should seriously look into that before I get going on my WiP again. :D

Toni Kerr said...

Alrighty Miss Macro Pro-- are you sure macros are worth it? I know you do.. but statements like "I'm not responsible if this breaks your computer!" make me really super-duper nervous! Should I be experimenting on a retired laptop? At least I found step-by-step instructions on your blog... :-) (Word Tip Wednesday- Macros) Thanks!

Abby Annis said...

Glad you found it helpful. :)

Abby Annis said...

I'm sure that's just a "cover your butt" statement. I've used Jordan's code and haven't have any problems with it. Usually a problem with Visual Basic code (unless it's intentionally malicious, which is rare) will only result in a broken macro. And I know Jordan is trustworthy.

And on the Excel file that she links to for download, I haven't had any issues with that either. It's actually a very cool tool and pretty easy to set up. The only thing that might get complicated is adding the code from post #8 in that forum thread to have it include page numbers. You'll have to actually go into the code to change that. If you have questions on how to do that, let me know and I'll walk you through it. :)

If you're still worried about it, you can play around with it by recording your own macro. Then you can go in and alter the code and get an idea of what it looks like without worrying about messing anything up. If you want me to walk you through this as well, I'm happy to.

I hope that answers your questions. Please let me know if it doesn't or if you have more. :)