Cheat Sheets For Writing Body Language

We are always told to use body language in our writing. Sometimes, it's easier said than written. I decided to create these cheat sheets to help you show a character's state of mind. Obviously, a character may exhibit a number of these behaviours. For example, he may be shocked and angry, or shocked and happy. Use these combinations as needed.

The Top Five Tips For Using Body Language

  1. Use body language to add depth to dialogue. 
  2. Use it because more than 50% of human communication is non-verbal.
  3. Use it to show how your character's emotions affect his or her actions.
  4. Use it to help you show rather than tell your reader everything.
  5. Use it in moderation. If overused, it can slow your story down.

How To Translate Emotions Into Written Body Language

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 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

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97 responses
Wow....that's probably one of the most useful lists I've ever seen...thanks!
Very useful...simply superb. Will be handy for me when I sit down to write next time.
A mullion trillion thanks for this incredibly useful page of "show" instead of telling. Thank you xx
I would have liked to pin this on pint rest :(
This kind of reminds me of The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi:
This is the best of the "show" lists I have either made or found. Superb.
Love, love, love these! Thanks for compiling them. I'm going to share them and put them in a file to resource. Michelle Random Writing Rants
This is very useful.
Its really helpful....
great post really!!! thanks for sharing
This is one of the most helpful writer's guide posts I have ever seen. It is so hard not to write "He looked at her in awe", but think about the specific body language in that situation. It also helps think about the traits a character can have... Every person is different so one can even put individuality into the writing by giving certain characters characteristic emotional expressions. Thank you so much for sharing this!!
Thank you, Kimberley.
I know I'll be referring back to this list often. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you, Melissa.
Perhaps this is the best way to hone up the writing skills of one's own and I should be very thankful to you for helping the writers through this .
This is dangerous if astute advice. Anything that aids progress writing is useful, but anything that aids progress stops you thinking - and it is only by thinking that he universe opens a portal and pours out something original.
Great information not only for writing but observation of these behaviors in action. As a school counselor I am interested in non-verbal cues from others.
Great work! high degree of observation! really impressed.
This is great. There is one word that comes up SO OFTEN that it is distracting to me as a reader and that is "gaze." People are gazing at things, at each other, they're gazing all over the place. One time I counted the number of times "gaze" was used in a book and found an instance of 5 times in 4 consecutive pages. But another book used "gaze" 5 times in 4 consecutive PARAGRAPHS. Why the editors don't catch this is beyond me. My favorite "gaze" quote from a book is, "Her brown gaze settled upon the distant mountains." That didn't make me think of her brown eyes. My first thought was that she was seeing smog! Is it strange to say a color with "gaze"? I've also seen something like, "His blue gaze swung up." (the man was driving at the time) It sounds strange to me, but maybe that's just me. The book with the distant mountains sentence used "gaze" heavily from the second page all the way to the second to the last paragraph! It was painful to read. I got rid of the book.
Very helpful to have this all in one place! Thanks!!!
Thank you! This is great! :)
Thank you for this post. It's very helpful.
This is a good list. But I believe we can always be a little more creative in mixing them up to denote various degrees and subtleties in an emotion.
Yes, Ayan. As it says in the post: 'Obviously, a character may exhibit a number of these behaviours. For example, he may be shocked and angry, or shocked and happy. Use these combinations as needed.'
These cheat sheets are worth their weight in gold! Thank you for taking the time to put them together.
AWESOME! I was just speaking with a friend who mentioned I needed to do this a little more. Thank you so much.
such an amazingly helpful post! Thank you!
Thank you. We're glad you find this useful.
Melody, Would have ditched that book too. That's just bad writing.
Please send me any further articles you put out. This one is very helpful. It makes us aware of the use of each movement as a symbol of inner thought. Thanks
This is the most helpful article I have read about telling vs. Showing. Thank you.
Thank you, Wendy.
Thanks for this really usefull I find that I use the same emotions over and over.
Thank you! This is an excellent reference for a desirable result.
"Excellent list," she said, rubbing her hands together and grinning. ; ) Thank you!
Thank you, Melissa! I love it!!
I read this very useful and generous article on Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me!
Thank you for the positive feedback. I'm pleased that this helps.
Thank you for this :))
Thanks for the helpful post! Great resource for the scripts I'm co-writing.
Simply superb compilation ! No more adjectives.
Thank you! We're glad that you find these lists helpful.
Very useful! Thank you so much!
What a succinct and useful list!
"Unfortunately," (pause, lips pursed indicating deliberation and thought) "these are almost" (stress on final word, downward tilt of the head with slight inclination to the left as the speaker maintains gaze on listener indicating mock-serious intent) "entirely" (extra stress on this word, head lifts and turns full-on indicating intent) "cliché" (jaw firms, slight downward shift of the brow, eyes narrow indicating mild annoyance.) "Sorry" (head lifts, jaw pushes out, eyebrows raised indicating belligerence and complete lack of genuine apology).
quite informative, and precise. thanks.
i'm highly grateful to you, thanks a lot n million, may god bless you a long and happy life
This is so useful! Thank you, thank you very much!
OMG! I impressed to read it. Really, you are doing good job.
Very informative thanks!
I need something different for pleading. and it's not on the list. Why is the emotion I want not almost never on the lists? xP (Arg)
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