Body Language as a TAG
- Use body language to add depth to dialog.
- Use it because more than 50% of human communication is non-verbal.
- Use it to show how your character’s emotions affect his or her actions.
- Use it to help you show rather than tell your reader everything.
- Use it in moderation. If overused, it can slow your story down.
A few ideas from writerswrite.co.za:
Anger or aggression: shake fist, point finger, stab finger, slam fist on a table, flushed face, throbbing veins in neck, jutting chin, clench fists, clench jaw, lower eyebrows, squint eyes, bare teeth, a wide stance, tight-lipped smile.
Boredom: yawn, avoid eye contact, tap feet, twirl a pen, doodle, fidget, slouch.
Confusion: tilt head, narrow eyes, furrowed brow, shrug.
Defensive: cross arms or legs, arms out with palms forward, hands up, place anything in front of body, hands in pockets.
Embarrassment: blush, stammer, cover face with hands, bow head, trouble maintaining eye contact, look down and away, blink back tears.
Fear: hunch shoulders, shrink back, mouth open, widen eyes, shake, tremble, freeze, rock from side to side, wrap arms around self, shaky hands.
Jealousy: tight lips, sour expression, narrow eyes, crossed arms.
Deep POV Characters
This is a technique that draws us in, so that as the reader we feel one with the POV character. It is as if you are that person. Authors like Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven King), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), and Cassandra Clare (Shadowhunters) use this technique effectively.
It is best used in novels that seek to thrill the reader or take them on an emotional journey. It is a technique that cannot be perfected overnight.
Limit your character’s knowledge and only reveal the things your character actually knows to keep readers engaged. Cut our filter words like “thought, wondered, or saw.” Just state it, e.g. She wondered how bad the tornado had been. VS. How bad had it been?
Limit your dialog tags. Use attribute tags instead, e.g. “Are you okay?” she asked. VS. Are you okay?” She reached for his hand, but he pulled it away.
Employ the ultimate show, and don’t tell. Deep POV is all about getting into your character’s head, so avoid as many instances of telling as possible.
Don’t use the passive voice. No action should be done unto someone. Someone should always do it., e.g. Her shoulder was hit. VS. He hit her shoulder.
Be careful when identifying characters. In Deep POV, your character relationships aren’t easy. Use dialog when possible, e.g. Not “John, her brother, stood next to her” but “John stood next to her.” Or “Eric, this is my brother John.”
Relate backstory with memory flashes.