Wednesday, April 23, 2014

LAYERING AS YOU GO - PART TWO: Revealing Emotion in Body Language & Facial Expression

In Part One (Click here) I shared how I personally like to layer my manuscript “as I go” — periodically pausing throughout the writing rather than facing the immensity of a bare bones manuscript after typing “The End.” I highlighted a number points that layering may involve, including providing body movement and facial expression, authenticating the setting, weaving in internal dialogue and “voice” for deep point of view, etc.
So this month let’s take a deeper look at one of those points.
LAYERING: Revealing Emotion in Body Language and Facial Expression
Very few of us, even when talking on the phone, stand rigidly with our hands at our sides and our facial muscles immobile. This week when you’re at the airport, church, mall or in the grocery store line...pause and take a good look around you. Really observe. You’ll see a variety of expressions and body language that, for the most part, clearly communicate what’s going on in someone’s head.
Stop and think...what is it about the man who sat down across from you that tells you he just received bad news?
Or the teen standing in the checkout line at the discount store...what is it about her that clues you in that she wants to be anywhere but with her mom?
Or the woman holding hands with her grade school twins as they cross the church’s parking lot...what communicates to you that things have not gone well that morning?
Think about how you would describe their body movement and expressions. Did the man merely sit down in the vinyl chair? Or did he slowly lower himself, shoulders slumped? Did the teen simply stand beside her mother, or did she turn slightly away, eyes downcast, jaw clenched, arms crossed? Did the woman just walk across the parking lot with her children, or were her high heels clicking sharply on the pavement, her eyes focused ahead, the twins scampering to keep up as she marched along? 

On a daily basis we “interpret” so much of what goes on around us based solely on body language and expressions. As writers, we want our readers to be able to “see” emotions, to “read” a character’s mind and not always name, label or explicitly state what is going on internally.
- She looked angry.
- He felt afraid.
- She didn’t want to go.
There is nothing inherently wrong with naming an emotion. There are times when it’s necessary and appropriate to do so. Anti-naming “purists” sometimes go crazy with the red pen on things like this when judging contests, but the important lesson here is to not always name the emotion, recognizing that the more you enable the reader to “see” inside a character, the more they will feel and be drawn deeper into the story.
In Myra Johnson’sWhisper Goodbye,” she could have said “Mary was afraid to open the slip of paper. But instead she wrote: Fingers trembling, Mary unfolded the slip of paper.
In Pam Hillman’sClaiming Mariah,” she could have said “She looked nervously at the angry man.” But instead, she wrote: She moistened her lips, her gaze drawn to the clenched tightness of his jaw.
In Sandra Leesmith’sThe Price of Victory,” she could said “Ralph was happy to get the money.”  But she wrote: Ralph whisked the envelope of cash out of her hands and danced a jig around the van.
In my “Pine Country Cowboy” I could have said “He looked amused,” but I wrote: He briefly dipped his head in acknowledgment, a smile twitching at his lips.
. please pick one of the situations highlighted below and, in the comments section, see how you can take a bare bones description and briefly layer it with body language and facial expressions--without “naming” the emotion or resorting to dialogue or internal dialogue.
- A little boy appeared in the doorway. (Let’s make him...afraid.)
- The little boy appeared in the doorway. (This time he’s...overjoyed.)
- The woman looked up at the man. (Let’s make love with him!)
- The woman looked up at the man. (He’s said something that offended her.)
- The man opened the door. (He’s late for a date.)
- The man opened the door. (He doesn’t want to go where he’s having to go.)
So, please pick a few of these “prompts” and have some fun today!
Next month we’ll take a closer look at another element of layering.

If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my April Love Inspired release, “Pine Country Cowboy,” please mention it in the comments section, then check our Weekend Edition for the winner announcement!
Glynna Kaye’s debut book “Dreaming of Home” was a finalist in the ACFW Carol and Maggie awards, as well as a first place winner of the “Booksellers Best” and “Beacon” awards. Her 4 1/2 star “At Home In His Heart” was chosen as a Reviewers Choice finalist by national magazine RT Book Reviews. “Pine Country Cowboy,” her seventh Love Inspired book (and the sixth set in the mountain country of Arizona), is available now—and “High Country Holiday” releases in November!
No Place Like Home. Abby Diaz longs to reestablish a relationship with her father, so she heads to Canyon Springs, her Arizona hometown, with a painful past she can’t share with anyone. But then she’s needed to care for her young nephew. The little boy takes a shine to a happy-go-lucky cowboy, a handsome man who’s everything Abby can never have. The more time she spends with Brett, the more she realizes he’s harboring a heartache of his own. As she works on repairing family ties with her father, Abby knows that opening up to Brett is key to forging a new future...together.


Marianne Barkman said...

Glynna ... You do this so beautifully while making it look easy. I would love to be in the drawing for your book. Any one for lemon squares with their coffee?

Mary Hicks said...

Glynna, thank you for this post. It's a subject that I struggle with—showing emotion in writing.

I know and can see the emotion in my mind that I want to depict. But finding the words that express it in a natural and real way is not easy. I'm working on it!

And you make it look easy. :-)

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, MARIANNE! I'm not a coffee drinker, but I WILL help myself to those lemon squares, thank you! :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello MARY H! This SHOWING emotion is something that is definitely a part of my layering process. Often in first round I'll name the emotion just to get it on paper, then go back and ask myself "is there any way I can illustrate this?"

Piper Huguley said...

Lemon squares always Marianne! Thank you for bringing them. Glynna, your approach to this is very reassuring. Going back and making the bad stuff better has to be a part of the process.
I'm doing the examples but keeping them to myself. I suspect that there are a lot who are looking at this rich column and may be doing doing the same thing. :) Thank you!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, PIPER! Maybe some other brave souls will be willing to post their attempts as the day goes on. :) It's still early here in the West -- not yet 5 a.m.!

I'm very much a RE-writer--so layering is my favorite part of the writing process. That's where the story comes alive for me and really fleshes out.

Crystal Ridgway said...

Wow! I'm here early today. What a great post, Flynna, and please enter me in the giveaway.

For my changing of a bare bones sentence, I'm going to take a little leeway with the woman in love and make her hurting too.

Beth kept her focus on the hem of her skirt as boot steps thumped across the porch boards toward her. Branches rattled ominously when the wind kicked up, the icy temperature swirling around her in no way comparing to the frozen hole in her heart left by Nathan's cold words after church the day before.
He stopped in front of her. The toes of his boots inches from her own. "Look at me."
"No." Maybe, if she didn't look at him he wouldn't have the power to hurt her. Even as the notion flitted through her, she knew it wasn't true. As badly as her heart had shattered with his cutting words, she still loved him. She'd loved him since she was a little girl and that wouldn't change. Not now, not ever.
One strong finger slipped beneath her chin. "Beth." It nudged gently, forcing her to meet his piercing blue gaze. She tried to scowl at him, but the muscles in her face wouldn't cooperate. "Look, I'm sorry for yesterday."
His words brought every bit of the crippling ache in her heart back full force. He wasn't sorry. He was just doing what he did best. Soothing her.
Or trying to.
And, oh, it was working too. Not that long ago she would have been perfectly comfortable just falling into his arms and crying all her pain or on his strong, broad shoulders. Not this time. The idea was tempting, but not enough to make her forget what he'd done to her. And what he had the power to do now that he knew she loved him.

I think I went a little long on this, but I hope it's okay. :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi GLYNNA, Wow you're making us work this early. smile. Love your photo. Makes me miss you and get excited to see you next month.

Great points to make that tie right into the layering with setting. These are the kinds of things that make the revision process so much fun. Its like putting together a puzzle.

Thanks for the reminders. I'm looking forward to seeing what some of our brave writers come up with.

DebH said...

hi Glynna
This post makes my brain snoopy dance with inspiration. Thanks for the nifty before/after examples.

okay, here goes... first to post meager attempts for your prompts:

A little boy peeked one large eye and three fingers past the edge of the doorframe.

A little boy bounded through the doorway like an eager puppy.

The woman batted her baby blues, caressing him with her gaze.

The look she shot the man should have been registered as a lethal weapon.

The man yanked the door handle, smacking his nose with the door's leading edge as he attempted to enter.

The man slowly turned the doorknob, hoping to discover the door to be locked. No such luck.

DebH said...

ah, Crystal beat me to it. *phew* i'm not good at being first.

Annie Rains said...

Hi Glynna!

Okay. Here's my stab at your challenge:

The man opened the door (late for a date)-- He stopped just behind the door, his hand frozen on the knob. His mother had always taught him that tardiness was akin to disrespect. And each time he'd made her late for any occasion, she'd held that against him with an unclenching fist.

Here went nothing. Or everything if you asked his heart.

He turned the knob, opened the door, and met his date's gaze head on. For a second he didn't breathe. And then she smiled at him and time, and all his worries, fell away.

Please enter me in the drawing for your new book!

DebH said...

uh, also forgot to mention my interest in Pine Country Cowboy - I'm always interested in Seekerville books!

okay, going back to work now. really.

Crystal Ridgway said...

LOL, DebH! I was kind of excited to be first. It was fun! Shall I take a stab at another sentence? My daughter and I do things like this occasionally. We'll start a page with one line and hand it over to the other, and they have to fill the rest of the page. It can get pretty challenging and is definitely good for our abilities to make a story out of almost nothing.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, CRYSTAL! You fleshed that out not only with some body language but also incorporated setting to reflect her inner turmoil as Sandra talked about this week! Very good!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Sandra! I'm SO looking forward to seeing you next month! It's been WAY too long! Hopefully mountain country will have some pretty weather by then--but 80% chance of snow by this weekend. Can't complain, though, since we fell far, far short of our usual 100 inches and the forest desperately needs moisture to get us through the fire season to the July monsoons.

Crystal Ridgway said...

Glynna, thank you! I love to do heart broken scenes in the wintertime. And if I can't do winter, then night is my next favorite setting for pain. There's just something about the cold of winter or dark of night that meshes perfectly with someone heartsore and hurting. Of course, I always love a good funny scene too!

Crystal Ridgway said...

Yikes, Glynna! Monsoons??? I don't like the twisters we get here in Texas, but I don't think I'd be too keen on monsoons either.

Glynna Kaye said...

HI, DebH! Great job! Just as I can picture Crystal's example heroine focusing on the hem of her skirt, I can "see" your little boy cautiously peeping around the doorframe. The guy on his way to a date smacking his nose on the door made me smile. :)

Glynna Kaye said...

CRYSTAL--"Monsoon" rains come in every afternoon in the Southwest from about mid-July thru August and sometimes on into September. Beautiful morning, then heavy rains for a couple of hours, then usually beautiful and clear the rest of the day/night. Last July we tied a record of 7.58 inches for the month!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, ANNIE! His hand freezing on the door knob illustrates his hesitancy and "for a second he didn't breathe" has us catching our own breath right along with him. Good job!

Crystal Ridgway said...

Whew. Glynna, you had me worried there for a moment. When I think monsoon, o think something akin to a hurricane. Wind. Rain. Days and days of rain!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Excellent post, Glynna.

I'm improving with experience, but sometimes now when the words come easily, I wonder if I've written it well, or if I've used a cliché-ish expression. I used to spend so much time dissecting that, but now I'll leave it for the time 'round and get on with the writing.

Tina Radcliffe said...

What a perfect post for those polishing for THE PERFECT PITCH and KILLER VOICES!!!

Connie Queen said...

Glynna, excellent post.

DebH, Crystal, and Annie, love your examples.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, ANITA MAE! Good to "see" you! Wise not to spend too much time making it "perfect" the first go-round, which is why I love the layering stage, that opportunity to briefly evaluate and enrich the writing. As you mentioned, it's so easy to fall into a cliché or even a description or something that we ourselves have used elsewhere in the book so we need to provide something fresh in another instance.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, TINA! That's right! We have quite a few Seeker Villagers shooting for the stars in those contests, endeavoring to make their manuscripts shine. Emotion that draws in a reader (and a judge!) can be very advantageous in a contest.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good Morning, CONNIE Q! Glad you found the post helpful! :)

Myra Johnson said...

"The look she shot the man should have been registered as a lethal weapon."


Fun post, Glynna, and also a treat to see you chose a line from my book for one of your examples! I do try to think about body language and facial expressions to convey emotion. Sometimes when I'm writing, I actually feel my face twisting into what I think my character might look like in that moment.

But then . . . trying to describe it in a fresh way? Not always so easy!

Pam Hillman said...

I know everybody writes differently, but as Glynna said, layering comes in that 2nd or 3rd pass for me.

Once I've got the entire story done and I know the plot is solid, the characters are acting and reacting true to form, the timeline makes sense, the CLUTTER inside my head and on my plotting spreadsheet is all nice and tidy... then I can layer in more showing emotion instead of telling it.

That's not to say that I don't try to show instead of tell as I'm creating, but I don't get too bent out of shape about it until I'm in the final stages of the ms.

Janet Dean said...

Glynna, wonderful followup post for showing emotion with body language and facial expressions.
I am more and more aware of not telling emotion, but showing it is far harder.

The big trick here is not to show the POV character's expressions in his own head. He may know he's frowning, but he can't see the light dancing in his own eyes.


S. Trietsch said...

Wow! This is so helpful as I'm in the revise what I wrote yesterday stage and was dismayed by how boring my writing was.

I am encouraged and will try to see the scene in my mind as I rewrite!

Thanks!! Stephanie

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, MYRA! Yes, thinking up "fresh" is the trick. I don't know how many times (at least five) in the past month or two that I've been reading a scene where the hero is tempted to (or actually does) brush back a stray strand of hair that has fallen across the heroine's face. Great tender emotion, but suddenly I'm seeing it everywhere. Makes me a bit "paranoid" about whether or not I'm writing "fresh!" :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, PAM! Layering is definitely second round for me (and third and fourth!), too. Sometimes I nail it the first time, but often I'm just trying to get the words down and don't linger long when trying to reach my day's word count.

Glynna Kaye said...

Very true, JANET! The point of view character can't see themselves so you have to be on the alert for things like that!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, STEPHANIE! I'm glad you found the post helpful. The thing to remember is that many writers write in layers--sort of like clear transparencies placed over the top of the previous one until it all comes together. My first drafts are often "talking heads" with little or no body language, emotional triggers or internal dialogue. That happens when I take a second, third or fourth look!

Glynna Kaye said...

Well, I have to step out for a bit, but I SHALL return. Have fun sharing your examples so that others can learn from them!

Crystal Ridgway said...

Janet, you are so right about not having the POV character see his/her own expression. When I read things like that in books, it irks me because there is no way the character could see, say, dimples popping out in her own cheeks.

Anita Mae Draper said...

DebH, loved your examples! :)

Wilani Wahl said...

A wide eyed, trembling little boy stood in the doorway frantically looking in every direction.

I love this challenge. I love your post and I would love to be in the drawing for your book

Myra Johnson said...

Nice, WILANI! Easy to picture the little boy's fear!

CatMom said...

Excellent post, Glynna--one that I sure can use. :)

The young boy remained in the doorway, one hand on the doorknob, the other tugging at his shirt. ( *I could just imagine some of the precious little children I taught in kindergarten in years past*)

No need to enter me in your drawing, because I'm planning to purchase your book. :)
Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

CatMom said...

p.s. Meant to add a description about his eyes, darting in all directions. ;)

Terri said...

Glynna, thanks for the examples. Examples always help me understand better. And the layering helps a manuscript seem so much richer.

kaybee said...

Glynna, I struggle with this and it was mentioned in my last two rejections. I tend to go too far in the other direction, partly because I'm a New Englander and partly because I'm a journalist -- I've spent most of my life keeping emotion OUT of stuff. Thanks for the new direction.
Kathy Bailey

Myra Johnson said...

PATTI JO, I can easily imagine the little boy you described. Also like the addition of darting eyes. Yes, there's something so precious about kindergartners. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Glynna, thanks for a great writing lesson. Love what everyone's submitting as examples!

I can see that little guy tugging at his shirt, Patti Jo!

DebH, dittoing Myra with my "like" of your lethal weapon gaze!

Crystal, loved your write up, especially the "crippling ache in her heart."

I'm relieved along with the guy who opened the door in your example, Annie. So glad his date smiled. It made me smile too!

Mary Connealy said...

A little boy appeared in the doorway. (let's make him afraid)

Dusty inched the door open, praying it wouldn't squeak, then he had to keep from crying out himself.

Mary Connealy said...

A little boy appeared in the doorway. (joyful)

Dusty leapt out of bed and ran for the door. He swung it open hard enough it bounced off the wall, but he barely noticed as he dashed down the steps, giggling, hoping it was time to go yet.

Mary Connealy said...

Okay, I already want to edit both of mine. :)

Lyndee H said...

Glynna, I like the exercise you've posed in this post. When my brain is working better, I will play with them. In fact, it might be a good warm-up activity on days when I need a quick start to get back into my WIP. Your post is really helpful. Thanks!

Glynna Kaye said...

HI, WILANI! Good example... I'm picturing that trembling little boy, his eyes darting to and fro.

Glynna Kaye said...

HI, PATTI JO! I like that...the the little boy halting in the doorway, tugging at his shirt. Very subtle...conveys his anxious thoughts.

Thank you for buying my book!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, TERRI! I'm glad you found the post helpful! :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello KATHY B! I'm sure coming from a journalistic background where you try to remain "neutral," that turning the emotions loose in fiction can be QUITE the challenge!

Jeanne T said...

Glynna, I loved this post. Layering is something I'm still working on (of the MANY things I'm still working on). I loved your points and your examples.

If I was going to try to show the woman looking at the man in the doorway in love, it might go something ike this:

She heard him before she saw his form leaning on the door frame. Heat blazed in her cheeks. Darn her blush. She sneaked a glance at him, and cut her gaze to the floor. The floor creaked as he stepped into the room. She glanced toward him again. His deep blue eyes studied her, drawing her in.

Very off the cuff, but kind of fun to play with. :)

This post is definitely a copy and paste and read again and again. Thanks for sharing!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, DEBBY! I'm enjoying reading all the examples, too. So neat to see how our writerly minds can take the very same scenario and bring it to life in varied ways!

Glynna Kaye said...

MARY -- I especially love your example where the boy dashes down the stairs giggling. I can just see him!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, LYNDEE! Good idea to use the samples as a "warm up" exercise! Sometimes we just need a little 'something' creative to wake up our right brains before we launch into a manuscript!

Victoria said...

Thanks so much for this challenge! It was just what I needed to kick start my writing today. These were fun to do ...

-A little boy appeared in the doorway, his hand clutching the jam. He glanced back over his shoulder before taking a slow step out.

-The little boy bounded through the doorway like a joey who’d escaped his mother’s pocket. “Daddy!”

-She raised her eyes to meet his gaze, and her smile started with the dimple and spread across her lips.

-Clenching her fists at her side, Marianne lifted her chin and glared.

-Jerking open the door, the man finished knotting his tie as he dashed down the hall.

-He gripped the doorknob with sweaty hands and opened it, swallowing hard and forcing himself not to look back.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi,JEANNE T! I like your example and noticed that you had her feel the heat in her cheeks, which is what made her realize that she's blushing. Sometimes writers have a point of view character "see" their own blush, but you very adeptly worked around that by having her FEEL it before commenting on it.

Vince said...

Hi Glynna:

“Inner states stand in need of outward criteria.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

As with method acting, if the writer/actor can feel what the character is feeling, then that writer/actor’s body will take the body language of the appropriate outer state.

Myra is right on target with her comment:

“I do try to think about body language and facial expressions to convey emotion. Sometimes when I'm writing, I actually feel my face twisting into what I think my character might look like in that moment…”

I think there are three levels involved here.

Level one: telling
Level two: showing
Level three: feeling

At level three the writer tries to make the reader feel what the character is feeling. This is very hard to do but it can be very powerful in those situations where it is possible. For example, to make a reader feel angry, create an injustice. The heroine, who is already angry at that hero, looks out the kitchen window and sees the local bully kick an adorable puppy.

The reader should now also feel angry along with the heroine. Again, this is not easy to do but sometimes it can be done. I’ll try to do some of this on the prompts.

A little boy appeared in the doorway. (Let’s make him...afraid.)

The little boy slowly began to appear in the doorway. His shaking hands held the broken pieces of his grandmother’s blue Delft birth plate. It was an heirloom he was forbidden to ever touch. A lone tear was making its way down his pale quivering cheek.

The little boy appeared in the doorway. (This time he’s...overjoyed.)

The little boy bounced into the room, “Don’t you all wish you were me?”

The woman looked up at the man. (Let’s make love with him!)

The woman looked up and just knew that this was the man she could spend the rest of her life making happy.

The woman looked up at the man. (He’s said something that offended her.)

The woman looked up at the man and then back down at the meal she’d spent hours that afternoon preparing. With a quick swipe of her hand she knocked everything off the table. The man froze and stared at her hand. A stream of blood was gushing from the gash she received from the razor sharp steak knife.

The man opened the door. (He’s late for a date.)

The man knocked lightly on the door purposefully ignoring the door bell. He opened the door a few inches, stepped back three full feet and called out, “Is it safe to come in?”

The man opened the door. (He doesn’t want to go where he’s having to go.)

The man slowly opened the door then stood to the side peering into the room reconnoitering just who was there. He wished he was back in Iraq.

Please put me down for a chance on “The Pine Country Cowboy”. I just checked and I’m surprised that I don’t already have a copy. I’m now reading Ruth’s book, Debby’s book, and a LI book by Naomi Rawlings that takes place just after the French Revolution. I think this is a very neglected time period.

It was a lot easier to keep up with the Seekers when they were publishing their first books months and years apart. : )

Great post! I’m looking forward to your next post on layering. I keep thinking of Anatole France who is reputed to have said: “The first six revisions anyone could have written but the seventh, that’s Anatole France.”

Thanks again. I enjoyed this time away from the digital grindstone. Still wiriting and editing without letup! But still I could not resist those prompts. : )


Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, VICTORIA! Great examples! I think my favorite of yours is: The little boy bounded through the doorway like a joey who’d escaped his mother’s pocket. “Daddy!” I can just feel his exuberance!

Glynna Kaye said...

Great points AND examples, VINCE! The one that "struck" me most is the one where the guy wishes he were back in Iraq. Lots of emotional baggage wired into those few words following his cautious entry.

And the one where the guy is late for a date made me smile. :)

Yes, it WAS lots easier to keep up with Seeker books "back in the day" when there weren't so many of them! (Last weekend I had to move all mine that were rowed up double-deep and double-high off the top of my computer desk bookshelf. They were toppling down on me!

And NOW I'm trying to keep up with the books of Seeker Villagers, too! Hardly a month goes by that there isn't a book by someone I "know" hitting the stands! Maybe soon one of yours, Vince!

Glynna Kaye said...

Stepping out again! Will be back in a bit! :)

Crystal Ridgway said...

I thought I'd try changing the example of the man whose doesn't want to open the door:

It was no secret what was behind that closed door. Matthew's boots dragged against the already scuffed floor with each leaden step that brought him nearer to that shiny doorknob. Each slight whimper that floated through the rough hewn entryway to Abby's door forced overpowering tightness somewhere between his chest and throat just a little higher. He'd willingly fight a roving gang of outlaws bent on revenge with his hands tied behind his back if it meant he didn't have to face a crying woman.

Crystal Ridgway said...

Blogger thought it would be funny and put a bunch of extra spaces in one of the lines in my previous comment. And, like Mary, I want to go back and edit already. ;)

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

This post is so helpful, Glynna. I've bookmarked it along with the previous one on layering. Loved the examples of layering in emotion.
Here's my example of woman offended by man: Sara looked up in time to catch a glimpse of his taunting smile. She rose to her feet and threw back her shoulders, her fists balled at her side, her eyes fiery slits as though aiming for better effect before speaking.

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

This post is so helpful, Glynna. I've bookmarked it along with the previous one on layering. Loved the examples of layering in emotion.
Here's my example of woman offended by man: Sara looked up in time to catch a glimpse of his taunting smile. She rose to her feet and threw back her shoulders, her fists balled at her side, her eyes fiery slits as though aiming for better effect before speaking.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my stars, I got over here hours ago and got interrupted....


I think of it like making a cake, that's the baker in me.... showing a hint and then giving just enough ganache to make it smooth, and adding raspberry drizzle.

I'm making myself hungry. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Eyes down, Clari weighed her options. Should she glance up? Meet the pretentious man's gaze?

And give him the satisfaction of knowing he got to you? Are you crazy?

She wasn't, at least not any more, and this guy wasn't worth the price of extended therapy.

Now, if he was Derek Jeter-cute, well....

A different story.

But it would take that level of cute + rich to tempt a reply. As it was?

Clari stretched, stood and left the cafe, seeking the sun's warmth without the ignominy of triple locks and metal bars holding her back.

And it felt good.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Pat Jeanne Davis. I love that description. You really did layer. And thanks for sharing. I know Glynna will be delighted.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh Crystal, I so wanted to read more. You did a wonderful job with that. I hope you've written more.
Glynna is going to have fun when she sees this. Thanks for participating.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey Anita Mae, How fun to see you again. Whenever I see you I think of RWA nationals. smile

I think you are wise. I just have to force myself not to revise and self-edit until I get that first draft finished. It just takes out the creative juices. Is it working better for you now?

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey Vince, Great to see you again too. Now I am so picturing that little boy with the broken dish. That particular scene had a depth of feeling that made me think you wrote from experience. chuckle

Crystal Ridgway said...

Sandra, actually, no, I haven't got anything more. I came up with my examples on the fly, not pulling from something I've got written. Although the one about the man dreading where he's going could easily be tweaked to fit in my WIP.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Glynna, this is so much fun. I was traveling today and just got back to the comments. There are some really fun expressions of emotion. What a great idea and it is so fun to see how many different ways we can all take a scene and make it unique with our own voice.

Sandra Leesmith said...

I'm loving all the creativity:

Crystal, Deb H, Victoria, Wilani, Patti Jo, Jeanne T. Great job all of you.

I'm impressed.

I chickened out. Well, not so much chickened out as knew I'd sit all afternoon trying to make it perfect. sigh left brain, right brain, left brain.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Crystal I think you should do it. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Okay, Ruthy and Mary C. I didn't mean to forget you. Of course you know already I think whatever you write is fantastic. Probably would even love your grocery list.

Hmmmm can you make that with feeling???

Cara Lynn James said...

Glynna, I'm like you. I layer as I go and then add to it when I revise. It's the easiest way for me. When I finish my first draft the manuscript is uneven, but that's ok as long as I do enough editing.

Dianna Shuford said...

Hi Glynna. Thanks for the challenge. Here's my meager attempt:

The man wiped his hands down the sides of his jeans, and opened the door with a deep breath. Perhaps things wouldn't be as bad as he thought.

Would love to be entered for the drawing.

Jana Vanderslice said...

Glynna, this is very fun! I'm too tired to try, but I'm going to use this soon.
It's state testing week here in Texas. I wish our writing teachers knew little tricks like this to teach to our students. Someone needs to write that book.
Please put me in your drawing & Thank you!

Glynna Kaye said...

CRYSTAL - Another good one! The dragging boots and leaden steps really illustrate his reluctance to open that door!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, PAT! Yep, I can just "see" that offended woman--and I think HE'D better keep a close eye on those balled fists! :)

I'm glad you found the post helpful. Writing it reminded me that I need to be consciously more observant of body language and facial expressions as I go about my day and attempt to mentally describe them and log them into my memory banks for future use!

Glynna Kaye said...

LOVE your example, Ruthy! (But how did Jeter manage to sneak in there?!) Love the cake baking analogy, too--raspberry drizzle. YUM!

Glynna Kaye said...

HI, again, SANDRA! Thank you for holding down the fort while I was gone! I'm really enjoying reading all the examples of revealing emotion through body language and facial expressions. Now....I wonder how many of these creative folks will use those few lines to launch into a new story?!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, CARA! Layering as I go helps me keep tabs on where I am in the story--like I said in Part One, sometimes I've WAY overshot my word count and thought I had more room for "story" than I truly had once I went back in to flesh out "talking heads!" :)

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, DIANA! Very good! I can picture that guy taking a deep breath, his hands probably sweaty from nervousness as he wiped his hands down the sides of his jeans!

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, JANA! State testing--no wonder you're tired! That's intense for teachers and students alike. Hang in there!

Tanya Agler said...

Dear Glynna, Thank you for the post. I laughed when I read your example about the mom of grade school twins whisking them across a parking lot as I am have twins who aren't quite in grade school yet, but my head burst with body and facial expressions for the imaginary mother.

Austin wiped away the tear falling down his cheek as he hesitated near the doorway. He didn't want Abby calling him a scaredy cat. His bottom lip jutted out as he peeked around the corner of the frame.

Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks and have a great rest of the day.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, TANYA! Sounds as if you know first hand the trials and tribs of getting twins out of the house in time to get somewhere!! :)

Awww, I love that example of Austin...! Can see the poor little guy so clearly. Great job!

Audra Harders said...

Glynna, I love how you deepen the character emotion with just a few extra words. It's so easy to fall back on the heels of telling when the reader craves to be drawn into the story. Thanks for reminding us a little extra effort goes a long way!

You're such a master at this. I can't wait for a moment to dive into Pine Country Cowboy!

Jenny Blake said...

its interesting looking at people and sometimes is someone feeling the same way who can tell an emotion. I deal with chronic pain and I can tell with one look when people I know who have pain are having a bad day even just the way they say something I can tell where as others dont see it. I know I try to hide the pain I am in at times but I know it shows when its bad. things like a smile that doesn't reach the eyes.
I know on the drug I was on before this one it sucked the emotions out of me. I had to try to sound happy and I know I laughed at the right times but inside I really wasn't feeling much of anything. It had made me forget things and I was frustrated. Friends who knew me could tell I wasn't myself where as others had no idea.
On a different drug which has way less side effects and I feel human again. its helping a little and at least the ice pick headaches are gone. (just dealing with the aftermath of having a tooth pulled)

Missy Tippens said...

Glynna, what a great exercise! I look forward to reading what everyone wrote. I'll tackle the man opening the door who's late for a date. I'm going to do it from the woman's pov. :)

He opened the door, sticking only his head into the room, as if afraid to come all the way inside. His big brown eyes begged her to forgive him, eating away her resolve to stay angry.

Chill N said...

Super explanation and examples, Glynna! Another 'excuse' to people watch.

Nancy C

Mary Preston said...

I enjoyed reading through the post & comments thank you.

I'd love a copy of “Pine Country Cowboy” thanks.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hi, AUDRA! I think so often in our rush to get words "on the page" that we, by necessity, find ourselves "naming" so we can move on. But I know I need to continue to train myself to more consciously convey the subtle "language" around me and incorporate that in word form into my stories.

Glynna Kaye said...

Hello, JENNY! Good reminder that sometimes a character may be trying to convey something they don't really feel. Someone who knows them will recognize the truth but a stranger or preoccupied friend might not. I'm glad you're on better meds now--but sorry to hear of the dental work!

Glynna Kaye said...

Cute example, MISSY! :)

Glynna Kaye said...

MARY P -- your name has been thrown in the kitty dish or Stetson or whatever it is we're drawing names from these days! Thanks for stopping by!

Glynna Kaye said...

NANCY C - People watching can be fun, but I need to remind myself to observe more often from the "writerly" part of my brain, to consciously think about how I would describe what I'm seeing in words without "naming" the emotion.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Glynna, I'm a day late and WAY more than a dollar short, so please forgive me, but this post was definitely worth the wait! I LOVE talking about/learning about/showing emotions, so bring it on!!


Glynna Kaye said...

I wondered where you were, JULIE, and why you didn't give a shot at the example where the woman is looking at the man with LOVE! :)

Edwina said...

This is such a helpful series, especially for me at this time, as I'm ready to start the layering process in my memoir. Thanks for the help!