Hiccups

Random fact about me: I am highly prone to hiccups. I have been my entire life. I would estimate that I get saddled with way more cases of hiccups than the average person. Although, don’t worry, I’m not about to go whine about it on the Today show and then kill someone. I promise. But if you want a fool-proof, almost instantaneous cure for hiccups, I can help you out.*

Another random fact about me: My writing is highly prone to hiccups. What I mean is that I seem to always use the same descriptions, the same gestures, the same reactions over and over and over again, like an involuntary response. Allow me to give you a few examples.

A character is mad? She turns on her heel and glares.

A character is scared? He feels lunch rise up in his throat.

A character is nervous? She clenches her hands together and wrings them.

A character is happy? His heart leaps.

And so on and so forth. I don’t know why, but when I’m writing, I fall into these standard “hiccup” descriptions. I let myself use them in the first draft, and then I edit out 90% of them on revision. And then I shake my head and laugh at myself.

What about you? Any hiccups you always seem to fall back on in your writing?

*This sounds strange, but bend over so that your head is below your heart. Then suck in your breath three times so that you’re holding it so deeply your lungs feel like they’re about to explode. When you can’t take it anymore, let out your breath and stand up. Chances are, your hiccups will be gone. Sounds strange, but it works (at least for me). It was the most amazing accidental discovery of all time.

Posted in Writing Tagged

10 Responses

  1. Pam Harris says:

    I was just complaining about this yesterday! I’ve been on an intense schedule lately trying to complete a first draft, and my characters keep rolling their eyes, blinking, and taking in a breath. Hopefully, most of these will be gone once I start revising…hopefully.

    • Meredith says:

      Ha! Great minds! πŸ˜‰ I have every confidence you’ll be able to dream up some even better descriptions during the revision process. And I’ll be right there with you, doing the same!

  2. I think all first drafts are prone to these fall-back gestures. We know we’re meant to show how a character feels but we don’t want to stop the flow of writing to create something new and spectacular so we fall back on smiles, laughs, shrugs, and stomachs doing strange things– my MC’s stomach seems to be the centre of all emotion. That’s what revision is for!
    – Sophia.

    • Meredith says:

      That’s exactly it. We don’t want to slow down when we’ve got a good flow going, so we just fall back on the first thing our minds conjure up. My characters seem to be pretty fond of their stomachs too. πŸ˜‰

  3. My characters sigh and shrug. All my male characters raise one eyebrow. Thank goodness no one sees my first drafts!

  4. Susan says:

    Oh gosh yes! My first drafts are riddled with “narrowed eyes”, “tilted heads”, and “gritted teeth”. Ooh, and let’s not forget all the “stomach clenching”, “quickening heartbeats”, and “blinking”.

    But, like you, I go through and weed it all out! I actually keep an “action tag thesaurus”–it’s an ever-growing list (organized by emotion/situation) that’s got visceral reactions, ways to describe an emotion, and synonyms for common actions. I’m always adding to it whenever I see someone on the street do something unique or I experience something (like fear or excitement) myself.

    I kinda rely on it…a LOT. :)

  5. Meredith says:

    Oooh, narrowed eyes! My characters narrow their eyes all the time! The action tag thesaurus is a GENIUS idea. I think I’m going to start making one of my own. When I’m revising, I tend to stop and really think about a situation where I was feeling a certain emotion in order to come up with a description. This results in me staring into space and daydreaming for a looooong time rather than writing. I could just as easily think up those descriptions beforehand and not waste my sparse writing time. Awesome idea! Thanks! :)

  6. I had the hiccups earlier today during sixth hour. We’re all sitting there reading, so it’s pretty quiet. My teacher looks up, around, and says, “Who’s got the hiccups?” XD

  7. kat owens says:

    Absolutely– I do this too. I’ve started a dictionary of bio signs like Angela (http://my-poetry-place.blogspot.com/) because it’s great to have a list to get your brain chugging along.

Leave a Reply