No More Nodding in Books

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
No More Nodding in Books

Hi, welcome to Write Better Now, a podcast of quick, weekly writing tips meant to help you become a better writer. We’re your hosts with NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones and copyeditor extraordinaire Shaun Farrar. Thank you for joining us.

One of the big things that Carrie sees in stories a lot is nodding.

Here’s what it looks like:

Shaun nodded. “I agree that’s a lot nodding.”

Carrie nodded in affirmation. “Yes. There really is.”

For a moment they sat there and then Shaun smiled. “You want to get out of this excerpt and do the podcast, baby?”

“Yes.” Carrie nodded. “I do.”

Why is this bad? Well, for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s the same action over and over.
  2. That same action is really just repeating what the dialogue is doing. The dialogue is already telling the reader that the character is agreeing.

The cool thing is that whenever us writers revise our work, we can go back in and specifically look for these nods and recognize them for what they are: placeholders.

That’s right. Every single time you see a nod, I want you to ask yourself:

  1. Does that nod really need to be there?
  2. What can I replace that nod with. A more telling physical action that involves the whole body? The character interacting with their physical setting? Just blank space?

You want to just go a little deeper into visualizing that scene, feeling and embodying that character’s body, so that you can bring the reader into the scene, too.

If you think about our little excerpt from earlier, you’ll notice there’s no setting. We have no clue about where Carrie and Shaun are, but also we have no clue about what their whole bodies are doing, what they look like, anything.

Here, let’s try it again:

Shaun stretched his long legs in front of him, knocking his shin against the iron support of the office desk, and put his arms behind his head. “I agree that’s a lot nodding.”

Carrie curled her legs under her and scooted her small velvet chair a little closer to him. “Yes. There really is.”

For a moment they sat there and then Shaun tapped his finger against the computer screen, sniffed in the eggy smell of dog farts and said, “You want to get out of this excerpt and do the podcast, baby?”

“Yes.” Carrie gagged, covering her mouth with her hand, cringing. Tears came to her eyes. “I do.”

Our bodies show people how we feel. How we stand, hold our head, purse our lips, move our hands, plant our feet, slump our shoulders, wiggle an eyebrow all communicate our emotional condition.

As writers, we have to key into those body movements, the expressions, so that we can have a full range of possibilities to help our readers be inside our characters’ worlds. That world is about a lot more than nodding, shrugging, and shaking heads.

Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out my substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.

Sublime Steampunk. Author Interview with Tony Quintana

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Sublime Steampunk. Author Interview with Tony Quintana

I was lucky enough to interview the brilliant, young, amazing and talented Tony Quintana, writer of wonder.

Tony talks about how he uses his perfectionism to motivate him, how his background in theater and art helped create Dashiel’s world, and how he began his debut novel in Spanish, only to decide to translate it all by himself into English. It’s a magical story and a magical book that began when he was just fifteen!

I hope you’ll check out the podcast and Tony’s amazing book! I mean seriously, just check out the art that it’s inspired.


When bloodthirsty metal soldiers from the empire of Zaphyrelia infiltrate the divine barrier protecting the magically-infused oasis of Azahar, an unlikely hero is found in Dashiel Ermitage, a simple librarian’s apprentice with a longing for adventure.

But with the metallic menace finally defeated after a valiant battle, Azahar faces a greater problem: the barrier that protects the land is weakening, leaving them vulnerable to their enemy. Dashiel’s wish for excitement becomes a reality when he is recruited to join the Cobalt Phantasms, an elite order that hopes to provide relief to the Zaphyrolean people suffering under a tyrannical rule. His journey takes him through a wonderful but dangerous nineteenth-century world of flourishing machines and dwindling magic.

Dashiel’s new life, however, is threatened by a long-held secret that will put an end to his adventuring days if it ever comes to light. Will he prove to be the hero Azahar needs to overcome their enemies, or will Dashiel’s past destroy his chance to save everything he holds dear?


Where to Find More About Tony and his Books



Author page:


The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.


AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! It’s taking a bit of a hiatus, but there are a ton of tips over there.

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.

Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

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