Saturday, November 26, 2011

Inspiration from Body Language

"Hey! What was that face? I saw that!"

"What face? I'm just standing here talking to you."

"No, you did this little...grimace. What did you mean by that?"

They're called micro expressions: fleeting emotions lasting less than a second. They are the tiny giveaways, glimpses into how we really feel. Sometimes it's hard to decode what someone's face is saying, especially for someone as naïve as me.

The recent TV series, Lie to Me, got me thinking about using micro expressions in my writing. I'm so tired of saying "his brow furrowed," "she smiled." It is fascinating to think about the sentiment I want to indicate and then use tips from micro expressions. Since it isn't always easy to catch them, however, I decided to have just one of my two POV characters, Pierre, be astute at reading peoples' faces. Sandrine just isn't someone who would notice!

Here's a link to some examples. Some of them are pretty easy, but I think the explanation about what the face is doing is really helpful.

What are some ways that you show emotion, in life or writing?  Do you know someone who has a tell or a little tick that they do when they're feeling something in particular?


  1. Micro-expressions add depth to characters and are in keeping with the show-not-tell style of writing.
    Mmm... you've given me something to think about... how can I humanize my characters/make them more interesting by using these expressions?
    I'm off to investigate... toodles! :)

  2. Interesting post will be following :)

  3. @MISH
    I'm gonna go back through my WIP and look at dialogue tags. Should it just be a "he said" or should it be an action...Hope your investigating goes well!

  4. Thanks for the follow! I'm terrible with this sort of thing. Maybe that's why I've moved toward verse and only use spare tags. ;)

    Love your bio, by the way.