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
· 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:
· 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
· Use real life patterns
· Get up and act it out
· 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.