Do people still wink these days? Apart from maybe Sarah Palin during the VP debates in 2008?
This question crossed my mind while I lay in bed today, doped up on NyQuil and surrounded by tissues, suffering through a headcold and a couple of novels on the Kindle I'd downloaded for free. The books were fine for what they were - brain candy to help pass a sick day. Two different books by two different writers, they both had one major thing in common. All the characters winked. A lot.
One of my writer's rules of thumb is, if it's something that happens enough in a story that I notice it, it should probably be toned down. There's a paranormal romance writer I call Wincey because all of her characters wince. All the damn time. Another one is master of the gimlet stare - her characters toss them out like they're throwing beads on a Mardi Gras float.
Those two winky books were pulling me right out of the story today, because I got distracted by wondering if I had ever actually winked at someone, or if I had ever been the recipient of a wink. Then I winked a couple of times to see if it felt like a natural thing to do. (It didn't.) Finally, I re-read a couple of the paragraphs that included the winking, wondering if the dialogue and other action in the paragraph would convey the message well enough without adding the wink. Most times, it did.
So while I was really just wanting to spend a few hours in bed reading, I came away with a little bit of a writing lesson. And a resolve to comb through my draft, making sure to excise unnecessary bits of business. Like winking.