Body Language Cheat Sheets For Writers

Cheat Sheets For Writing Body Language


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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If you enjoyed this, read:

  1. Show! Don’t tell. Avoid these 10 verbs when you write
  2. 5 Incredibly Simple Ways to Help Writers Show and Not Tell
  3. 5  Instances When You Need To Tell (And Not Show)

by Amanda Patterson
© Amanda Patterson

This article has 54 comments

  1. Basil Sands

    Wow….that’s probably one of the most useful lists I’ve ever seen…thanks!

  2. Sanajaya

    Very useful…simply superb. Will be handy for me when I sit down to write next time.

  3. Angie

    A mullion trillion thanks for this incredibly useful page of “show” instead of telling. Thank you xx

  4. Rach

    I would have liked to pin this on pint rest 🙁

  5. The Tale Monger

    This is the best of the “show” lists I have either made or found. Superb.

  6. Michelle

    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

  7. Manny

    This is very useful.

  8. Keyur Panchal

    Its really helpful….

  9. pio dal cin

    great post really!!! thanks for sharing

  10. Kimberley Jackson

    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!!

  11. Writers Write

    Thank you, Kimberley.

  12. Melissa Parker

    I know I’ll be referring back to this list often. Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. Writers Write

    Thank you, Melissa.

  14. v.p.s.parimala rao

    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 .

  15. Chloe Thurlow

    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.

  16. lillian Hollaway

    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.

  17. saqib

    Great work! high degree of observation!
    really impressed.

  18. Melody

    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.

  19. Rowan Worth

    Very helpful to have this all in one place! Thanks!!!

  20. Jaclyn

    Thank you! This is great! 🙂

  21. Cornelia Lorenzo

    Thank you for this post. It’s very helpful.

  22. Ayan Mukherjee

    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.

  23. Writers Write

    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.’

  24. Kyrie Chasen

    These cheat sheets are worth their weight in gold! Thank you for taking the time to put them together.

  25. Susan Elliott

    AWESOME! I was just speaking with a friend who mentioned I needed to do this a little more. Thank you so much.

  26. Lulu Salavegsen

    such an amazingly helpful post! Thank you!

  27. Writers Write

    Thank you. We’re glad you find this useful.

  28. Jeanne Voelker

    Melody,
    Would have ditched that book too. That’s just bad writing.

  29. Judith Shernock

    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

  30. Judith Shernock

    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

  31. Wendy Engelmann

    This is the most helpful article I have read about telling vs. Showing. Thank you.

  32. Writers Write

    Thank you, Wendy.

  33. Jason Chapman

    Thanks for this really usefull I find that I use the same emotions over and over.

  34. Vee

    Thank you! This is an excellent reference for a desirable result.

  35. Danita Cahill

    “Excellent list,” she said, rubbing her hands together and grinning. ; ) Thank you!

  36. Bela Lampert

    Thank you, Melissa! I love it!!

  37. Michelle Wallace

    Excellent!!

  38. Alexandra Wallner

    I read this very useful and generous article on stumbleupon.com Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me!

  39. Amanda Patterson

    Thank you for the positive feedback. I’m pleased that this helps.

  40. Jammee

    Thank you for this :))

  41. Becca

    Thanks for the helpful post! Great resource for the scripts I’m co-writing.

  42. J V Ramana Gupta

    Simply superb compilation ! No more adjectives.

  43. Writers Write

    Thank you! We’re glad that you find these lists helpful.

  44. Ulla Hakanson

    Very useful! Thank you so much!

  45. Tara

    What a succinct and useful list!

  46. Colin Smith

    “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).

  47. N Murali

    quite informative, and precise. thanks.

  48. Sharique Anwar

    i’m highly grateful to you, thanks a lot n million, may god bless you a long and happy life

  49. DarkForestCrow

    This is so useful! Thank you, thank you very much!

  50. Norton

    OMG! I impressed to read it. Really, you are doing good job.

  51. Turkish Traslators Team

    Very informative thanks!

  52. darkocean

    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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