The Rose Files – 3
There I was, talking to a fellow writer the other day, when the topic of describing movement came up. It can be awkward to do sometimes. I once wrote the following:
“I lifted my shoulders and spread my arms out at the sides.”
A writer’s group friend at the time, looked at me and said, “Why don’t you just say, ‘I shrugged’?”
Oh yeah, that’s right, language is there to convey complex ideas in a few words. I was so busy describing the action that I’d overlooked the fact there was a word that already did the job.
The reason my writer friend raised this topic is because I took her to task for using the phrase, ‘my head pulled back,’ to illustrate surprise.
“But how else do I show that action?” she demanded of me which lead to the current topic of how to show surprise without using narrative.
So, in case you struggle with this too, I would like to offer you the following suggestions:
a. Eyebrows rocketed
b. Stepped back
c. Rocked back
d. Looked askance
f. Sharp intake of breath
g. Eyes widened
h. Eyes rounded
i. Slow whistle
j. Hand flew to mouth
k. Jaw dropped
l. Eyes snapped open
m. S/he jumped
n. S/he flinched
o. S/he frowned
q. S/he started
Of course, there will be many others not described here but the magic happens when some of these are combined:
He stepped back, eyebrows rocketing.
Her eyes widened as she let out a slow whistle.
His jaw dropped, eyes rounding.
Blinking, she looked at him askance.
All convey surprise and not a single, ‘my head pulled back,’ in sight .