The Process: Emotions & Body Language

You have characters, a story idea, and may have started writing by now. But are your characters really coming to life on the page? Can the reader “feel” what they are feeling? Can the reader “see” how they react to something or someone? This is all part of that whole it is best to “show” and not “tell” thing people talk about, especially editors and agents.

Maybe you are doing a fairly good job of “showing,” but maybe you’re running out of alternate ways to express your characters’s emotions and body language. I’m a huge believer in easy lists for help when needed. I don’t like thumbing through a book for an idea, reading paragraph after paragraph, and trying to find the meat of what I was looking for. So I’ve recently created an easy to use summary of various emotions and body language from a number of resources and books. One of the best online resources for emotions and setting details is The Bookshelf Muse at

My list is divided into most emotions that you might be dealing with, and then each section is divided into facial elements, body language, and voice elements. I didn’t include the index that I’ve also created for this, but you can easily create one of your own from the numbered pages.

As always, the Emotions & Body Language list has been added to both the Writing Tips on this blog and to the Writing Tools on my website.

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