It happened to me about an hour ago. I was writing a scene between two characters and I knew I had one central goal: To “show” the audience how someone was reacting via body language rather than “telling” them outright.
"I’m sure you do," said Sara sarcastically.
Note how the writer explicitly tells the reader the underlying meaning and tone of Sara’s response.
Sara’s lips were pressed together in a thin line as Carl spoke. “I’m sure you do,” she said through a half smile.
Note how the writer shows the reader Sara’s actions, her body language. The reader would be quite aware of the cues body language provides, and begins to feel the underlying emotion behind that gesture rather than being outright told.
The central element in the example above was an understanding of and appreciation for body language. We communicate much of the messages we send and receive non verbally. And it could be argued that part of the excitement and interest we have in interacting with others is using that ability to piece together the clues and come to our own conclusions about what someone is thinking. The fun is partly diminished if that game is ruined by outright telling us exactly what we’re supposed to get from a scene, deciding for us how we’re supposed to think and feel about a situation.
So I decided I’d get over that short writer’s block by looking up resources for writing better body language. After reading through a LOT of online resources (many of which promised much but delivered little, or ended up just recommending a book that I could buy if I really wanted those GREAT tips) I did manage to rack down a few that I feel actually helped me get a sense of the message I was trying to convey and gave me inspiring tips to do so through various characters’ body language.
I share them here in hopes you might find them interesting, maybe even helpful.
- Body Language
- Body Language: An Artistic Writing Tool
- How to Write with Body Language
- Translating Body Language
- 41 Flavors of Body Language for Writers
- Body Language Basics
Quick Sheet anyone?
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