What I’m Reading and Writing: April, 2019

I’ve fallen behind in my reading goal for the year due to my writing and editing projects. My goal this year is to read thirty books. Unfortunately, I have only read four books so far this year and, according to Goodreads, I’m four books behind schedule! Still planning on completing my reading of Farrer’s 40k novel, but I’m being distracted by Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Gaiman’s novel is so good and better than I expected, so I will probably finish that one first and have a full review later. One thing I appreciate about Gaiman’s writing is that he does a great job using short, direct sentences that show a lot of emotion and carry a lot of dramatic weight. It’s not easy to do, but he pulls it off well and his style keeps me engaged and coming back for more.

I recently finished doing some developmental edits for a couple of books, so that has given me more time to do more of my own writing before the next editing job. Planning on taking a short break from the novel writing experience to write and submit some short stories to a few journals and contests in the next couple of months, which should be fun. Writing a novel is like planning and constructing a home full of hidden rooms and trap doors. It’s a long process, so it’s nice to write some short fiction and try to capture lightning in a bottle as a break.

Writing Advice: Eye Rolling

One writing cliché that has been appearing repeatedly in the manuscripts I’ve been editing lately is eye rolling. I did some research into eye rolling and learned some interesting things. First, 100 years ago eye rolling meant you wanted to have sex. Women and men Milton’s Paradise Lost and Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece all rolled their eyes to show sexual desires. It wasn’t until the last few decades that eye rolling became associated with passive-aggressive behavior. Forrest Wickman wrote an informative article for Slate magazine that tells more about the history of eye rolling and its impact on communication.

Even though it is common for people to use their eyes to say things words cannot, there are better ways to show your character’s displeasure or impatience. Seriously, try rolling your eyes once or twice. Hurts, doesn’t it? Now imagine forcing your characters doing the same action every time they want to show annoyance, boredom, or contempt. They’re going to need a lot of painkillers for those migraines before the end of the chapter! Furthermore, a literal reading suggests that your character’s eyeballs are popping out of their sockets and rolling across the floor! Consider showing your character crossing their arms, tapping their feet, or have them say something sarcastic instead.