Smiles, Nods, and Moving Body Parts: Editing your novel

Meredith Bond
3 min readSep 24

Is now a good time to think about all of your overused words and phrases? Yes, it is!

It doesn’t matter where you are in writing your novel, now is always a good time to think of these things. Well, yes, there is always a caveat to that. If you’re a pantser or someone who gets really deep into the writing of their book that they simply do not stop to reread or edit what they’re writing, then, no, now is not a good time. Wait until you’re finished writing the book. For everyone else, go for it!

I am deep into writing my next book — about 15,000 words in and riding that Rising Action hill as my characters get to know each other and confront goals they didn’t realize they needed to have or even those they did. I don’t always stop to reread what I’ve written the previous day, but I do sometimes stop and reread what I’ve just written, or, at least, I try to.

If I edit as I write, I have a lot less cleaning up to do after the book is done. Does it take me out of the story? No, not at all. In fact, it helps me think about what needs to happen next (if I don’t already have it plotted out). But even as I am writing words, I realize that my characters are doing the same actions again and again.

My characters smile and nod ALL THE TIME! They laugh and chuckle and giggle. Frowning comes in there as well sometimes with pinched lips and almost always with brows being drawn down. Stomachs knot, chills run up and down spines, hearts begin to pound (sometimes in the character’s ears, which is really odd), and heat rushes through bodies at an alarming rate, up arms and down to toes.

I wonder if my readers get heartily bored with reading the same thing over and over again and yet I can’t stop myself! It’s how I try to convey feeling without actually saying “She was attracted to him” or “He found her amusing” or whatever. How do I show that someone says something with good humor? They smile. How do I show that someone is amused, happy, upset or interested?

A smile, to my mind, says so much. But there’s got to be another way. Showing the emotion behind the smile will help. Guessing at someone else’s emotion as they speak could get very interesting because the person guessing might be very wrong. Moving more than the…

Meredith Bond

Award winning author, Meredith Bond's books straddle that beautiful line between historical romance and fantasy. Merry is also a writing coach and formatter.