Emotions can’t be told. They have to be shown
The definition of smugness is an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements.
How would a smug person feel?
- Puffed-up like a bird
- An adrenaline rush (warm/increased heart beat)
- Confidence in themselves
- Superior to others
Following from this, what body language do you except to see of someone who is feeling pretty smug?
- A cocked head
- Chest puffed out
- Jutting chin
- Dominating behaviour
- Moving/acting in a way to draw attention
- Good posture
When writing body language, it is useful to note certain factors which will influence how it’s expressed:
- The personality of the character – are they the sort of person who is flamboyant in their body language, or would the action be subtle?
- The characters who are with them – are they with friends, strangers, adversaries, subordinates, superiors, or their spouse (think of the masks you wear when you’re with different people).
- The situation they are involved in – higher tension may cause a normally reserved character to act out of character.
It’s easy to write “She felt sad/happy/angry/scorn/joyful/conflicted,” but here we are telling the reader the emotion, not showing it.
Detailing your characters emotional habits and keeping them consistent will make them much more believable to your readers. It will also stop you from using crutch actions such a nodding, shrugging and sighing.
You can join in on #FeelLines and will be looking out for your entries every Thursday.