Created by a friend of a friend, Talking Head Syndrome is a serious disorder created by only specifically working on the dialogue and forgetting that your characters are in a place, with some kind of scenery, and that they have bodies.
Diagnosis is typically given from editors. While THS is not fatal to the character themselves, it can be to the interest of your reader in a certain direction, if you don’t have any other stimulants in the chapter/excerpt/story than the dialogue. Though the characters with THS can still feel, and express emotion with their faces, it is still detrimental to their body language.
Talking Head Syndrome can also dramatically decrease your wordcount, sensory details, and most of all, depth and personal atmosphere to drag the reader in.
Fortunately, there’s a cure! Found at high altitudes on the Mountain Descriptor, one can find scenic details, curious movements, slumping, whole-body exclamation, descriptions of rooms, idle motions, wanted or unwanted touch, animals in the immediate area, room details, and many more! These things can help fill out the empty spaces between dialogue, giving the chapter or story a more robust feel, and giving your characters more than just heads!
With all of the new filler pieces, you can help your story become like a fine painting. While dialogue alone can suffice in some situations, or must, there is always a plus to putting in bits of the surrounding area in as well, finding a way to blend it in.
Carly looked off just then, her mouth dropped open even after her sentence was finished, caught by the beauty of the orange and pink horizon. Joss’ continuation of the story caught her attention back before too long, and she resumed listening.
Little somethings. Reach a hand forward, turn slightly, sigh with the whole body. The five senses come in handy here, too, especially! Don’t let yourself lose sight of it, even in a thrilling conversation that pushes the plot forward several spots. Remember that your characters, even if they’re robotic and non-human, have some kind of sense that allows them to take in what’s around them, or to move (unless they don’t, then ignore this post entirely!).
Don’t let Talking Head Syndrome get you down any longer! Take the steps and see a better story today!
-The Novice Wordsmith 😉