May 12, 2014 - fiction writing    No Comments

Body Language for Writers–How to use it in your fiction

How to use body language in your writing.

We’ve all heard that body language is important, and most communication occurs through body language.

This is mostly true, as far as most experts seem to know, but let’s talk about using body language in your writing.



First, body language is associated with character.  You might create some typical body language that a character has in normal situations.

For example, let’s take a character named Sir George the knight.  He’s a bit of a worrier, and likes to talk, but he usually is very enthusiastic about his knightly quests.  Let’s say that most of the time he smiles and swings his arms.  He also tends to rock back and forth on this feet.  These gestures are unique to George and shows his energy and his restlessness.  We also can see his cheer and enthusiasm, and how he feels about other characters.

You would want to work these in to your story here and there.  Something like this:

“I don’t like the look of that tree,” George said as he shifted his weight from foot to foot.  “Not one bit”

However, those are just some gestures for normal situations.  You also need some that he or she would have when they are upset, angry, impatient, worried, and afraid.  What might old Goergey do when he is afraid for example?  He might, for example, hug his arms to his sides, holding his sides.

George stood in the archway.  He gripped his sword hilt, blade undrawn, until his knuckles  cracked.  His other hand gripped his belt, but he did not breathe, gazing at ogre who slept at the bottom of the cliff.

I think you have the idea.  However, before you start diving in to body language, I would suggest that you do two things.

First, read a book about it.  Allan Pease has a few excellent books that introduce body language.  There are others, of course, but

Allan Pease's Body Language book

Allan Pease’s Body Language book

these are the best.

Second, practice.  Use what you’ve read in the books.  Watch people at a party, at the mall, at work.  Try to read them.  Remember, that body language varies by context, and congruity (certain gestures are used by certain people).

After that, you know enough to put this into practice.  Add some body language to your characters.  It will not only tell the story more vividly, it will also better define your characters.

This is true, but according to psychology today it is a bit more important.  Their article talks about the importance of body language and how it has to be understood in context–the situation it is taking place.

Got anything to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!