Advice, Characters, Dialogue, Fiction, Tips, Words, Writing

Smiling as I fly?

delta-airplaneI scheduled this to post this morning because I am flying to New York City today. First, I’ll be meeting up with my son, daughter-in-law, and two youngest grandchildren in Salt Lake City. So. today’s post is an oldie … but I hope a fun goody. I will try to respond to comments as often as I can while I’m away, but until then talk amongst yourselves.

smileyfaceOf course, we all know now that Forrest Gump invented the original Smiley Face, but there’s another less familiar one, the Carl’s Jr./ Hardee’s Happy Star. While 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 closecarl star 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.”