Friday, April 5, 2013

A Writer's Body Language Cheat Sheet

Here at PTA we are very interested in the craft of writing (which for Patrick and Josh means sometimes writing about crafts) so it's important that we brush up our skills as we complete that first draft of that novel we've been working on.

One skill is that of making your characters more real. Here are some excerpts from a cheat sheet I found at that will help writers add depth to their characters. I've added my own comments next to some selected signs for fun.

Signs of Anger 
  • Balling the fists - A new meaning for baller.
  • Crossing the arms tightly - Protecting the heart.
  • Tight-lipped smile - My usual smile.
  • Clenched teeth - My usual state of sleeping.
  • Shaking a finger like a club - I've never shaken a club. How would this look?
  • Stabbing a finger at someone - "Hey you! I know you! I know you!"

Signs of Attraction 
  • Pupils dilate - I've never been able to remember which on dilate is ... larger, right?
  • Women will cross and uncross legs to draw attention to them - Like the Rockettes, got it.
  • Mirroring - (usually unconsciously) mimicking the other person’s body language - If it were consciously, that would feel awkward.

Signs of Being Closed Off to Conversation 
  • Keeping the hands in the pockets - "Can't talk, I'm pocket texting."
  • Arms and legs crossed - My usual state of sitting.
  • Sitting back - It's more of a relaxed "I don't want to talk to you."
  • Folding the hands together on a table (creates a barrier)
  • The “figure-four” leg cross (setting the ankle of one leg on the knee of the other) and then grabbing the lower half of the top leg with both hands. - You lost me.

Opennesss and Honesty 
  • Exposure of the palms 
  • Arms and legs unfolded 
  • Leaning forward 

Submissive Signals 
  • Slumping the shoulders - Aka The Charlie Brown.
  • Doing anything to appear smaller - Like eating 1500 calories a day, amirite?!

  • Self-hugging - See your bishop.
  • Folding the hands together in front of the crotch (men) - No comment.

Lying causes a subtle tingling in the face and neck, so the gestures below are attempts to eliminate that feeling: 
  • Covering the mouth - can be like a shh gesture, or they may cover the mouth completely - "Cough."
  • Touching or rubbing the nose or below the nose - Picking isn't a lying tell; it's a disgusting tell. 
  • Rubbing the eyes (especially men) - I knew my allergies were a lie.
  • Scratching the neck with the index finger - Scratching with the middle finger is something else.

Superiority, Confidence, Power, Dominance 
  • Steepling the fingers - "Here's the church, here's the steeple, close the doors to all the poor people."
  • Folding the hands behind the back - I see a lot of Asian men walk like this.
  • Hands on hips - "Hey, Macarena!"
  • Straddling a chair - My favorite improv stage maneuver.
I hope this helps! Happy writing to all.

Get more writer helps here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...