Sunday, May 19, 2013

Body language

My best friend and I were sitting at lunch the other day, and a hot guy walked by. So I said, "That guy is hot." (I'm eloquent that way.)

"Would you say that in front of your husband?" she asked.

"Sure would. And he doesn't mind."

She expressed some disbelief on his behalf, but it's the truth. It has to be.  It is my job to notice people.

I'm an author. I write stories where I must describe things. Human beings are the main things I describe.  Mostly, a story is about what my characters think and how they act. But their appearance (either the one they're born with or the one they create) can have a powerful impact on their thoughts, their actions, how other characters react to them, and--ultimately--how the reader responds.

Authors must be good manipulators of body language.

I know a dozen ways to say "blond."  If I call a girl "overweight", the reader has a different mental image than if I call her "curvy." I might give a minor character light brown eyes, but the hero's eyes are amber.

I pay attention to details. What is the shape of a person's face? Is it symmetric? Do they have scars? Facial hair? Does their hairstyle flatter or detract? How about their hands? Do they have long, elegant fingers? Is the skin supple, rough, or wrinkled? Are the nails long? Manicured? Dirty? Bitten? 

I might say that I find a guy attractive, but I could also write you a five-hundred word description to tell you exactly why. And it is likely that elements of that description will wind up in a book of mine one day.

Authors have careers that require understanding from spouses, but we're not the only ones. Actors kiss people who aren't their partners. Health care providers see and touch bare body parts as part of their daily routine.  The lady at the lingerie store knows precisely what bra size I wear just by looking.

My husband understands. He knows that a lot of what I say is simply exercising the tools of my trade.

Really. If I say you're hot, it's professional, not personal. Most of the time.

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