Monday, November 07, 2005

Body Language

One of my new enthusiasms is body language. It came to me when I read manuscripts for the RNA's New Writer Scheme that sometimes something was missing. Also that after writing a number of manuscripts, I didn't want to repeating the same gestures time and time again. So a little research was needed. I bought Desmond Morris's Peoplewatching and Pearce's The Definative guide to Body Language. Absolutely fascinating stuff.
There are definite gender based gestures, and gestures that dominant males do (display?) There is also a definite courtship ritual that couples go through. At each stage, it is possible to break off. Sometimes, the courtship ritual is condensed, and sometimes prolonged, but if the writer misses out on the subtle stages, it can leave a sour taste in the reader's mouth. For example, the hero and heroine barely meet, and he paws her breast. Several stages are missing. If however, they see each other, he helps her across the street, they speak a bit, his hand flicks back of a tendril of hair, the gaze deepens and he kisses her, the reader can see the progression.
With male gestures, I now know there is a definite reason for my editor's dislike of grinning heroes. Grins are much more common in nervous or young males, not so common in dominant males. A similar situation exists for winks. Dominant male gestures are more likely to lead the reader to believe that the hero is an alpha male rather than a submissive one.
Why do people speak of bedroom eyes? Because when people are aroused, their pupil dilate. It is one of the reasons that prostitutes used to use belladonna to make their pupils become larger. Larger pupils give the impression of attractiveness. One this was figured out, Revlon changed its marketing, and by simply increasing the pupil size in its catalogue, it managed to significantly increase sales.
There are certain signals that women give off in social situations to show that they are approachable. However, different cultures have different concepts of intimate space, and what may look like acome on may simply be a cultural misunderstanding. Men have varying degrees of success at reading these signals.
The next thing will be to translate this information into a workable tool for my writing.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating information! I never knew about the pupils.

Anonymous said...

I knew about the pupils, but I think I'm going to have to buy this book. (OK. I've ordered the paperback from Amazon. Happy Christmas, me.) Your mind works along the same lines as mine, so I know I'm going to be intrigued by it too! There's also one in my local library by Sue Quilliam which I might pick up tomorrow. Will let you know if it's any good.