“What are you doing?”
How a person speaks is more than just the words that come out of their mouth. Communication includes body language and can change the whole tone of the words. The title of this post can be taken numerous ways and sometimes in depends on the mood of the reader as to which message it delivers. It’s extremely important when writing to provide a picture of how those words should be heard.
Mother stood in the doorway of the room with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face. “What are you doing?”
From those two sentences, it is easily implied that the tone is heading into the disciplinary range. Somebody is in trouble when Momma is mad. Oh… but wait… I didn’t say the mother was mad in those two sentences, I showed you. You can picture the event and almost hear the way the words would be spoken.
Mother peered around the door into the room with an eyebrow raised and a half grin on her face. “What are you doing?”
Now we have a whole different feel for the story and sound to that one question. The actual question didn’t change, but Momma’s no longer mad – she’s curious. Whatever is occurring in that room is more than likely funny.
Both of Mother’s eyes opened wide. “What are you doing?”
Can you guess the emotion to be conveyed with this one? Shock. Whatever is happening has caught Momma off guard or she thinks the person is a total idiot. She could have thrown up her hands in a stop or any other motion to convey the thought.
“What are you doing?” Mother asked.
Hmmm. Well, I have no idea what to assume for Momma’s emotion. The biggest part of writing is to verbally paint a picture. When writing, consider the blank canvas (piece of paper) and determine the best possible words to convey what the picture should be.
So… what are you doing?