by JJ Cooper
When I was in the Military, I spent some time teaching Body Language Analysis in interviewing and interrogation. This involved reading the subject's body language as well as using the interviewer's/interrogator's own body language to get optimal results.
Research suggests that information is passed via three elements:
In normal conversation, the verbal element is primarily used for passing the facts or opinions that a speaker wishes to convey to the listener. The vocal element is used to support the words; in other words, it includes things like intonation and emphasis on particular words.
As you can see, the non-verbal component, which is more commonly referred to as body language, is the single largest component of person-to-person communication. Each gesture is like a single word, and a word may have different meanings. It is only when the word is used in a sentence with other words that its meaning is fully understood. Gestures come in sentences/clusters and may indicate the truth about a person's feelings or attitudes.
We are generally unaware that posture, body movements and gestures can tell one story while the voice may be telling another.
So how can writers transfer this information into their writing? Firstly, using body language indicators is a great way of 'showing' the information instead of 'telling' the reader what is happening. When using dialogue, accompany it with some sort of physical movements. Let's face it, do you just sit or stand still when talking to someone? Do you stand closer to someone you are more comfortable with? Do you touch the arm of someone you care for just before speaking with them?
A word of warning though. Don't have a physical movement at the end of each dialogue tag. Remember, everything we write must add value to the story somehow.
About the Author:
JJ Cooper spent seventeen years in the Australian Army, deploying on two tours of duty in East Timor and one tour to the Middle East in 2003. He specialised in Human Intelligence, including interrogation (as a practitioner and instructor). Since leaving the military, he spends every spare moment on his passion for writing. JJ's debut thriller, Interrogated, will be published by Random House Australia in 2009. Visit his blog at http://jjcooperaus.blogspot.com.