Time to Write Now By Julaina Kleist-Corwin

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Exercise for How to Write Descriptive Body Language

Body LanguageWriters are told to show how, not tell. How would you write this girl’s feelings without saying that she’s sad or that she’s alone?

You would describe in gripping sentences, not a list, how she looks: her head is down, her back is bent over, and her arms hug herself.

body language cryingHow about this emotion? Would you say  that she’s crying? Maybe, but first describe her body language, one hand covers her right eye, we can assume both eyes are closed, tears on her cheeks, etc. You wouldn’t write a list like I did, your writing would flow using well-written sentences that capture her emotion.

In my writing class, I assigned an exercise. I asked the members to pair up with one person being A and the other person being B. A is the protagonist talking with B about C who is not present. A and B have opposing opinions about C. Or, either A or B gives information about C who is not present. The members would observe each other’s body language and take notes. How did one show disagreement? How did one show shock about the information, etc.

There are many books that tell how to write body language, but if you directly observe it as you are acting out the emotions in a real conversation, details appear to use in your writing.

Body language 2 happy


  1. ladywinfred says:

    Excellent writing tool, Julaina. To test it further, I typed “lonely” into Google/Images and studied the pictures, looking for body signs for that emotion. What I found interesting was the two most powerful images I found were of single people sitting looking out across a field in one and out at the ocean in another with an empty chair positioned right next to them. Reminded me that wrtiting is always about relationships — the empty chairs, with the body language of the people in the occupied chairs, screamed lonely. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Interesting, Lady Winfred. What a great idea to Google the emotion, that’s faster than looking it up in several emotion books I have.

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