Thursday, February 21, 2013

BODY LANGUAGE GIVES TEXTURE AND DEPTH TO YOUR STORY - by Rita Karnopp

     Make your stories crackle with authority.  We are savvy enough to put sensations beyond sight and sound into our books . . . it’s the basic five senses, right!  The most gripping to me is the sense of smell.
     Let’s do a test.  Close your eyes … oh …. You’ll have to read this through and then try it!  Giggle.   Okay, again, close your eyes and imagine a lemon.  Imagine the clean, bright yellow lemon.  You grasp your knife and cut it in half.  Citrus scent fills the air as it squirts juicy liquid in every direction.  Bring the lemon to your mouth and take a large bit.  Did you shiver?  Did your mouth pucker? Did your tongue spasm from the mere thought? Did you smell it?  I’ll bet the answer to all those questions was a resounding YES, even though you were imagining it.
     Evoke these feelings, smells, tastes as you write. Whether it’s an onion, lemon, pine, or a pile of sh….!
     What are other ways to bring the senses alive?  Consider everything, for instance the weight of his jacket, or the blisters from his boot. How about the bitter blast of wind in his face or the cold, wet snow as it melted on his cheek?
     It’s always great to read about a character who allows you feel, smell, taste, hear, and see what he/she is experiencing.
     Not only do agents and editors love the five senses, but your readers do, too! Don’t forget the physical aspect of a story that deepens not just your setting, but also your characterizations.
     I’ve read that the key to this bit of story-telling is; the use of body language in your narrative. Strange as it may seem, we rarely talk about the use of body language when discussing the skills of writing.  I think that’s because it flows in the story and it’s almost unnoticed. When you think about it – body language gives texture and depth to your work. When it’s missing, a story falls flat.
     What exactly do we mean when we say to write with body language?  Two things are at the core; anxiety (or lack thereof) and hidden desires.  Analyze your characters internal constitution; upbringing, attitude, background, experience, highs and lows of life, and then understand and sense how they feel in any given situation.

Consider this:
Dylan leaned against a tree and exhaled warm air into the chilly night.
That doesn’t tell anything about the Dylan or his frame of mind. Make the action mean something and use the moment fully:
Dylan leaned heavy against the tree and scanned the dreary skyline. Nothing made sense since Lora died.
We learn something about what’s going on with Dylan here, without having to plow through an internal monologue from him or Lora.

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