1. Thanks for reminding us to not use the same gestures repeatedly. I struggle to vary my body language motions with my characters, tending to repeat some. However, I do think using one or two ‘tell-tale gestures” for a character, especially a main character, can be useful to instantly communicate what a character is thinking or feeling.

    Ex.: maybe a hardbitten private-eye whistles softly when he’s nervous and ready to fight for his life. The ‘bad guys’ might interpret that as being relaxed and carefree, but we the reader know that our hero is sweating bullets trying to work himself out of a jam. So every time the P.I. whistles, we know something intense is about to happen.

  2. Thanks so much Brian and Chris,
    And excellent point Chris! A telltale character marker not only builds consistency and shows how a character deals with emotion, but can be a terrific use of foreshadowing.

    You can build an entire “vocabulary of actions” (a tip I picked up from reading Stella Adler’s ART OF ACTING) for a character. An action/tactile character can express himself by using his shoulders/arms/hands in gesture while another character pinches the bridge of his nose or closes his eyes and puts a hand to his forehead, indicating a headache as the character keeps tension inside. Then there is the character who bites her nails or her foot taps and twitches unconsciously although her face and voice is one of calm, smooth indifference. Thinking through how a character reacts physically shows (there’s that show-don’t-tell thing again:o) the reader what’s going on beneath the surface.

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