As a result of the adverb debacle last week, which if you haven’t read, it’s here, I’ve now stumbled into another literature-based quandary – that of body language.
Gone are the days when I could just say something was undertaken slowly, or angrily, or happily or any other convenient adverb that summed up the context nicely and succinctly. Now I have to describe and imply. Which is fine, but there are only so many times people can scoff, shake their heads or roll their eyes.
To remedy this, I’ve spent the last week trying to take more of an interest in body language, and as a result, I’m starting to question whether it actually makes up 90% of communication.
Yes, in a dramatic scene when emotions are running high, there is plenty of arm flailing, gasping and swooning, especially if you’re writing a Jane Austin novel. But when two people are sat in a chair opposite one another chatting, the only thing I have so far noticed is “John agreed, swivelling his chair from side to side in a manner that implied that he agreed.”
Not the most compelling of implication I agree, as I’m basically just inferring how smooth the rotation is in the new office chair is, which I think detracts from John concurring.
Thankfully, I’m not writing an office based period piece, but the point still remains.
There is another issue when trying to note body language which is that it diverts your attention away from the conversation. So instead of listening intently, I’m staring the person down, studying the smallest of body language ticks. Which inevitably results in me ignoring their question and the person scoffing, shaking their heads and rolling their eyes – and I’ve used enough of those already.