I think the primary reason why I tend to overuse these reactions is because they're quick and easy. Rather than slow down and picture my characters acting out these scenes, I sometimes skate along, focused completely on the dialogue and not on what they're doing. This is definitely a sign of lazy writing, and something I'm consciously working to improve.
However, sometimes - a lot of times, really - you need to have those character reactions in there. The characters are always the most important element in a story. What they're feeling/thinking/doing is what gives the story the life it needs to keep readers engaged.
Given that, I've decided to create a Glossary of Character Reactions. This is definitely just for fun and not something I plan on using as a crutch (and neither should you). I almost feel like a cheat doing it at all. But writing is a collaborative process, and anybody who tells you differently either needs an ego-check or they've never worked with a serious critique partner, agent, or editor yet. Also, I intend this to be a brain-jogger. Sometimes when I'm revising/editing, my brain gets tired and this list can be a way to get the juices flowing again. Also, I have a feeling it might give us a few laughs, too.
So below you'll see the list I've comprised so far. My challenge to you, dear readers and friends, is to help me expand the list by adding your own favorite character reactions as well as a couple of new ones in the comments. Then in a couple of days, I'll add everybody's suggestions into a master list and do a new blog post. Sound fun? I hope so. At the very least we can all bond over how dependent we all are on our haracters reactions (she said with a shrug).
***originally posted at www.mindeearnett.com. You can comment here or there.***