Sometimes in a manuscript, I’ll notice that perhaps the protagonist is always fumbling with her hair. Or maybe I’ll see “He smiled” so often I begin to wonder if his face is just permanently frozen. (Or if I’ve watched anything scary that day, the smile turns into a preface for “I’m not smiling at the cute thing you did, I’m smiling because I’m imagining you on a spit.”)
In real life and in books, too many out-of-context smiles makes one question the sincerity or meaning of the smile. Too much hair tugging makes the character go from nervous/flustered to someone who needs a lice bath.
So how do you balance the line between using linking a movement to a character to show their unique way of handling stress/happiness, versus turning them into a big ball of twitches?
No, really. I’m asking you. Leave some helpful tips in the comments.
(Tip from me? Avoid the urge to add a body or facial movement after every dialogue tag.)