Monday, 22 October 2018

Sighing and Other Irritations

I was reading back over the last couple of chapters of my work in progress last week (before I carry on with my writing, I always read and edit my words from the previous day) and something soon became clear to me.

A lot of my characters stand in doorways. 

In fact, it's amazing how many doorways there are in my novel... and how many times people stand in them. 

Sometimes they lean
Sometimes they loiter
Sometimes they eavesdrop
Sometimes they hover

... but mostly they just stand.

It reminded me of the time (a long time ago now) when my husband told me that a lot of the characters in my magazine stories 'furrowed their brows' and occasionally even 'knitted' them. Yes really! 

You'll be glad to know they never do that now.

It made me wonder about other writers. Do their characters also have a fear of crossing the threshold or are there other irritating things they do much too often? With this in mind, I took to Facebook and asked the question. Here is a list of the answers I got back - they may or may not surprise you.

  • sigh
  • blush
  • rise to their feet
  • take a deep breath
  • shrug
  • smile
  • giggle
  • roll eyes
  • lock gaze
  • nod
  • shake head
  • raise eyebrows
  • check watch
  • turn on their heel
  • frown
  • linger on thresholds
  • stir tea
  • pull up a chair
  • put kettle on

My favourite answer by far was the writer whose characters often winced and gripped each other's elbows (that sounds very painful!)

When the novel is finished, I shall definitely be on the look out for all these sneaky little actions - just in case they've crept in when I wasn't paying attention.

So pull up a chair, take a deep breath, stir your tea and smile while you think of some other actions we could add to the list. If you do, I'll be the one shrugging and rolling my eyes in the doorway!


  1. Ha ha. Yes, I think we're all guilty of letting our characters loiter in doorways. Mine are always wiping under their eyes, but never rolling them!

  2. I can honestly say mine have never wiped under their eyes ever.

  3. I'm starting to think my characters don't spend enough time in doorways. As far as I can remember they always go straight through without even pausing to do a sinle one of the things on that list.

    I do a lot of doorway loitering myself though. Maybe that makes up for it?

  4. I had two characters who nodded constantly. Their actions have been rectified!

    1. They must have got serious neck ache, Lindsay.

  5. Love this! Mine need little encouragement to lean in doorways, but my favourite action to avoid is where 'his eyes followed her round the room.' Picture it! It's fair ghoulish...

  6. My characters were always 'turning' to look at something until my editor said would they please stop making her dizzy.

    1. Oh yes, turning and Looking - mine do that too, Susan.

  7. Mine drink an awful lot of wine... 🍷

  8. I highlight those pesky words like sigh, shrug, etc. before printing out my manuscript for editing. Helps me get rid of them.

  9. Guilty of the take a deep breath but no doorway loitering. :D

    I probably have others I've not discovered yet.

  10. Mine drink a lot of tea. But not loitered in a doorway yet.