I love using body language to build my story. Partially, this stems from my joy of people-watching. So much can be learned from how people interact with others. Here’s a little snippet from my latest release to show how Devin expresses his feelings.
Excerpt from Beautiful Mistake
He reached up and ran his long fingers through the patchwork hair. The strands fanned with the movement, settling against his shoulders. With the second sweep through the locks, he yanked handfuls of the colorful hair, a groan accompanying the rough tug. She dropped her gaze before she gave into the urge to ask if he was all right. Her fascination with him wasn’t healthy. Outward appearances didn’t make the man and this one was a dangerous predator. Big cats did not make good cuddle buddies.
She pushed her body into a sitting position. The movement tugged her abused stomach. Preparing for the worst, she glanced down and didn’t see what she’d expected. Instead of a bruised and beaten body, she saw her familiar tanned skin—blood free, without any ugly black and blue splotches.
Her shoes had been replaced by a pair of large socks, the tops rolled down to help them stay on. Scratches marred her legs from the edge of her exercise shorts to her feet but none were bandaged nor did they need to be. The only square of gauze covered the wound on her belly.
“How long was I unconscious?”
He tensed and rubbed one of those big hands over the back of his neck but didn’t turn around. She glanced away when it became apparent he wasn’t going to answer and ran a finger over a splotch of shiny new skin on her knee. Anxiety settled in her bones. A lot could happen in a matter of days.
“Few hours,” he muttered. She looked at him. His arm was folded against the wall, his forehead resting on it. “I tended your wounds. Most won’t scar.”
Picking apart the emotions
Now, Devin’s upset, guilty and stressed in this scene. He’s the one who caused Lena’s injuries and he feels horrible for his actions. So, what are his body language clues?
He runs his hands through his hair and yanks on the strands to portray his frustration, groaning as he does so. Rubbing his neck is an automatic response to his guilt, but it’s his inability to look at her which drives it home. He folds his arm against the wall, defeated and shamed while he admits that his actions left a permanent mark on the woman who will end up saving his soul and his mind.
Activity from Diana:
Okay, time to review your own writing. Go back to your current wip and take a look. Where can you add in body language? Any words you can take out and express through a character's action instead? I know this is something I struggle with. With my theatre background, I tend to focus on dialogue and figure the reader can fill in the details. This is fine when I'm writing a play where the actors like to have some wiggle room for their own interpretations.
But romance readers want to be able to see the scene in their own imaginations. And body language is a great way to help them do that.
Try it. Take a scene that needs some beefing up and, instead of concentrating on the dialogue, add in movement, stance, gestures. Go overboard. You can always pull back later.
To find Nancy on the web, you can visit the following:
Facebook (profile): http://www.facebook.com/nancy.corrigan.79
Facebook (page): http://www.facebook.com/NancyCorriganAuthor