Today, I’m going to talk about gestures. I love using them, but I’ve found I’ve been overusing the same ones: shrugged, nodded, sighed, shook his head. While these gestures are okay to use it’s better to look for more vivid gestures that tell the reader about a character, help set a mood, and make the scene visual.
Make it personal
The best way to make your character specific is to use a unique gesture. For example, a person who is nervous could put his hand up to his mouth and give a little cough before speaking.
Look at a picture in the newspaper and write about the emotion on the person’s face. Next try writing the emotion on their hands. Are they resting on the person’s lap, or touching the person’s face? Vivid imagery can help you create better characters.
When you edit a scene, make a note of the gestures you’ve used in the margin. See if you’ve overused any or if they are too similar.
List of gestures
Here is a short list of some gestures that you can use in your writing:
she put her hands on her hips
he spread his hands
she spread her arms wide
he held out his arms
he waved his hands
she clapped her hands
she shoved her hands in her pockets
his hands tightened into fists
he covered his eyes with a hand
Now look at the picture in this post. What gesture could you write?
Here is my attempt: The horse stopped abruptly. Her fingers tightened on the reins, and the horse’s muscles constricted against her legs. She let go of the reins and leaned forward to touch his mane to calm him and herself.