Quote Originally Posted by Zoe R View Post
Can someone provide an example of how to replace smiling?! Sighing is also hard to avoid, although I have characters nod and shake their heads more than shrug. #29 would definitely be my hardest to avoid!
Well, I'm not sure whether this is what the list author had in mind, but I'm starting to think of other ways I could express a smile. Perhaps instead of "Pat smiled," I could say:

* Pat's eyebrow climbed her forehead.
* The corner of Pat's mouth turned upward.
* Pat's eyes crinkled.
* Happiness shone on Pat's face.
* A laugh played across Pat's lips.

None of these may be right for any given situation and they may have problems of their own. The general idea I've got in mind, though, is that there are so many evocative ways to convey a smile that a character needn't ever simply smile. In my manuscript, you'll find this: "The young man grinned, and for a moment he seemed all teeth and Adam's apple." I rather liked that one.

This is actually a pretty fun exercise. We could certainly each come up with a dozen more ways to describe a smile in no time, I think. Likewise for sighing. My characters nearly all smoke cigarettes so I get to have them blow out smoke in various ways when they need to sigh, which is rather convenient. Also rather easy to overuse if I'm not extremely careful (on my list of things to watch out for when I get to revising).

I do have a character who shrugs from time to time. She's a relatively young woman, and sometimes comes across as very young and girlish to the POV character who spends the most time with her. The shrugs help fuel that impression. When she shrugs instead of speaking, she seems (to the POV character) like a teenager.