Dialogue, Fiction, Writing

To smile, or not to smile …

smiley2 Of course, now we all know that Forrest Gump invented the original Smiley Face, but there’s another less familiar one, the Carl’s Jr./ Hardee’s Happy Star. happystar2While driving home this morning, I passed two of these Happy Star signs and realized that I like this smiley better than the original. Do you see the difference in their smiles?

When you truly smile, you eyes change shape, they crinkle at the edges, or change angle slightly, or close a bit. That means the Happy Star smile looks more genuine. The traditional smiley’s eyes are not smiling. To be honest, he looks rather deranged. Try it! Open your eyes wide and smile. Don’t you feel just a teeny bit over the edge?

Okay, this is a writer’s blog, so you’re wondering what this has to do with writing—you are, aren’t you? Here’s my take on it, we need to make sure our characters’ expressions and actions match their words. That’s also a way to avoid the plague of unnecessary adverb use. Is there any doubt what’s happening or how the words are delivered in the following scene snippets?

Sawyer’s face was all teeth and dimples as he said, “Nice to have you back, Freckles.”

The barrel of Sayid’s gun pressed into Ben’s back. “I advise you not to make a move,” he said.

At the sight of the fifty-foot obelisk rising from the jungle floor, Hurley backed away, eyes darting from side to side. “Dude,” he said, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

5 thoughts on “To smile, or not to smile …”

  1. “Bertha dahling, of course that dress doesn’t make you look fat,” Darius said wide-eyed with a big smile on his face.

    Yeah, I guess the only way that Forrest smile works is if you’re not really smiling, but lying your head off like Darius above.

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  2. I tried to smile with my eyes wide open. I burst out laughing. Then I laughed even harder as I read on and you said, “don’t you feel just a teeny bit over the edge.” I definitely did! Ha! I’m still laughing.

    Oh, and this is definitely something I struggle with. Adverbs and adverbial clauses are the bane of my existence!

    P.S. I love LOST!!!!

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    1. I try not to sit there at the FWC meetings wondering what’s happening on LOST. 🙂 If I didn’t have DVR, I guess I’d have to give up critique group for half the year.

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  3. Drool. I want Carl’s Junior. Is that the message I was supposed to get from this post? I was out of the country for a week, all I can think about is food now. LOL

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