According to experts, our body language and tone of voice convey a lot more to others than the words we speak. Some say up to 70% of communication is non-verbal. What we say isn’t nearly as important as how we say it.
Non-verbal communication is just as powerful in fiction. As writers, we need to consciously and carefully pair action with dialogue to reveal character and deliver our intended emotional punch. It’s all part of making every word count.
When I look back at my first writing efforts, the movements of my characters read like stage directions. He crossed the room, he ran his fingers through his hair, he picked up a glass. All boring and cliché bits of business there to identify who was speaking and little else.
More experienced writers know how to put body language to work for them. They know how action and other nonverbal cues can change the tone of a scene, add emotion, illuminate character or add tension.
I started using the power of body language more consciously in my own writing after taking psychologist and popular writing teacher Margie Lawson’s Empowering Characters’ Emotions course a few years ago. She now offers one specifically on Writing Body Language and Dialogue. Margie is a very engaging instructor, and I can highly recommend her courses.
Looking for more resources?
Over on the Writers Write site, Amanda Patterson shares her cheat sheets for writing body language. Hobby Lark offers tips on what NOT to do. And Scribophile has a good post on using the subtext of body language in your storytelling. Writer Jean Kisacky also has a couple of articles (here and here) on this topic on the excellent Writer Unboxed site.
Do you have any thoughts or resources to share?