Friday, July 13, 2012

Body Language for Your Characters

By Maggie
I received this book from one of my sons and his family a couple Christmases ago. This wonderful reference covers behaviors in people of all ages, normal and abnormal, including basic traits of those in various professions from bookkeepers to funeral directors to writers. Really, I can open this book anywhere and find an interesting chunk of 'whoa' to help me create characters as authentic or bizarre as I want. And who couldn't use some body language tips to help their characters tell by showing?

Examples of gestures that show:

Self-Confidence
  • sitting on the arm of a chair
  • sitting, hands locked behind head
  • sitting, legs apart
Distrust
  • covering mouth with hand
Disbelief/doubt
  • picking imaginary lint off of sleeve
  • looking down, face turned away
Insecurity
  • putting finger in mouth
  • biting nails
  • patting hair
Deceitfulness
  • rubbing nose
  • hiding hands, putting hands in pockets
  • pursing of lips
  • sitting unusually still
See what I mean? This book also includes how the face shows emotion:

Surprise
  • brows raised, long wrinkles across forehead
  • eyes wide-open, white showing above the iris
  • lower face- dropped mouth, no stretch or tension in lips, lips parted
Fear
  • raised, drawn brows or flattened brows
  • eyes- hard stare, tension in lower lids
  • lower face- corners drawn back, lips stretched
The profiles included are also helpful in deciding what your characters might do in different situations by the traits you see them as having. Oh, and it's a good read for play as well as work.

I recommend Writer's Guide to Character Traits, second edition,by Linda N. Edelstein, PH.D as a useful edition to your writer's bookshelf.

What are some of your favorite writing references?

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5 comments:

Faith E. Hough said...

I've never seen that! Definitely checking it out...

Andrea Mack said...

This sounds great. I often use The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi to find tips on showing emotions through body language.

Maggie said...

I'll check that out.Thanks,Andrea.

Patricia Stoltey said...

This sounds like a good book to keep on hand as a reference.

My favorite writing book is the self-editing reference from Chris Roerden, "Don't Murder Your Mystery." She did an expanded version of this book to make it applicable to all genres and called it "Don't Sabotage Your Submission."

Jamie Raintree said...

That sounds fantastic! It's been on my to-buy list for a while but I'm moving it to the top now.

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