A Body Language Cheat Sheet For Writers

cover image of the writer's guide to psychology by carolyn kaufman Here’s kind of a neat thing: author and doctor of clinical psychology Carolyn Kaufman has released a one-page body language cheat sheet of psychological “tells” (PDF link looks like Carolyn’s taken down her free resource, but here’s a potentially useful replacement!—MWS) fiction writers can use to dress their characters.

As someone credited / blamed with a “cinematic” writing style, I’m always giving my characters “business” to do. Their eyebrows arch, they sneer, grin, cough into their hands, shrug, fiddle with things, pace, bite their nails or their lips, scratch the sides of their faces… they’re always moving, and I’m always at risk of making them into moving cliches.

So, I was pleased to learn of Kaufman’s writers’ aid, and I’m interested in checking out her book, too!

For the writers out there: what habits have you given your characters? For the readers: what are some of the most memorable “tells” of your favorite fictional characters? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

2 Comments

  1. Hèlen Grives

    Hi Matthew,

    Thank you for the information on this page. I just stumbled upon this body-language cheat sheet. It will be very helpful for my research and writing.

    Regards,

    Hèlen

    Reply
    • Matthew Selznick

      I’m glad it’s useful to you, Hèlen! It seems a lot of folks have found it so. Be sure to support the author of the cheat sheet by buying her book, if you haven’t already!

      Reply

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