During the first Friday in October, National Body Language Day recognizes the significance of nonverbal communication in your life. These are the silent messages you don’t realise you’re sending in your interactions with others. From a smile to a shoulder shrug, your body is revealing your emotions and thoughts.
I find this a fascinating subject particularly because I am broadening my horizons and reading things that I would not normally read. One of them is a graphic novel, a comic really, but aimed at adults. Because there are very few words, body language, and facial expressions are important to convey the emotion of characters within a story.
Also, I have a book with my editor and was struggling with certain aspects of the storyline. She recommended The Emotion Thesaurus, A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. Who knew there was such a thing?
We all read body language and expression every day, so why would there need to be a book about it? Well, you would be surprised. It is something many of us take for granted and don’t think about it or don’t even know we are doing it. For a writer, you have to think specifically about that sort of thing for description and to convey a person’s feeling in a way that can be envisaged.
For example, how would you interpret bitterness? You would recognise it for sure, but could you write down some of the key aspects? No, neither could I, but once pointed out, they are obvious. Take this as an example.
Rebecca’s arms crossed the front of her chest as she stared back at the smaller girl. “That’s what you think is it? That’s your opinion?” she sneered.
“Well, yes, it is,” Donna said defensively. “I’m entitled to give an opinion just as you are.”
With a soured expression, Rebecca spat. “Because you know everything, don’t you? Just because you’ve been and done it doesn’t make you an expert.”
Donna swallowed and refused to be intimidated as Rebecca attempted to look down on her.
There are several expressions included in there that tell you about the bitterness Rebecca is feeling. Of course, if you love stories as I do, you will instantly want to know more. But, sadly this is just an example, and neither you nor I will get to know what caused Rebecca to act like this.
The power of a writer’s words can convey so much without conversation, just as in real life. We hear and look at a person and are able to interpret what they are saying, and possibly what is running through their mind.
It is a fascinating subject, and you can read more about that here.