One of my favorite writer blogs is Writers Write. Most of what they write about is creative, but they also discuss business writing, and blogging and social media. A recent topic was a fun one for me – 60 Things for Your Characters To Do When They Talk Or Think. What things can characters be doing while talking? What actions will reveal character more thoroughly?
When I read the list, I mixed up a few which ended up giving me amusing images, like bathing a cat (I mixed up giving a dog a bath and cuddling a cat) and watering a child (mixed up watering houseplants with watching a child play). Of course, giving a cat a bath could create some hilarity in a story. Some of them seem a little too much like sittin’-and-thinkin’ activities, like knitting, hiking alone, or waiting in the doctor’s office.
A couple of the ideas could yield clues to mystery if that is a part of the story – sorting through photo albums or old papers, cleaning up a hoarder’s mess, or even rearranging furniture. Sorting through medications could be a way to show the hill health of a character or obsession with his/her health if it’s vitamins, minerals, and other supplements. Sharpening knives could be perceived as a threatening act in the right circumstances (or the wrong ones). Ironing clothes could display a character’s OCD if he/she keeps ironing until the seam is absolutely perfect. And I am reading a book right now in which the hero is OCD and he is obsessed with the number 8 and taps it out with his hand when he is conversing (The Devil Takes a Bride, Julia London).
I just read a book in which the female character buttered the same piece of toast three times, so I found this post very timely. What do you have your characters do when they are talking?