IT’S INCREDIBLY HELPFUL AND CAN FOR INSTANCE GENERATE TOPICS AND FIRST LINES, CONTAINS LOADS OF EXERCISES AND YOU CAN FIND PLENTY OF WRITING TIPS.
Can you give me advice about write in first person in the present, like in Hunger Games books, please?@Anonymous
I’ll try my best…! I ‘ll break this up into technicalities and technique so you can just jump to whichever part you need to use.
Technicalities: Changing Tenses
When I get confused about tenses, I break it up into two sections. So, first of all you have ‘first person’. First person is referring to oneself as ‘I’. For example:
I snatched the bread from the table, dropping it into my lap before the master had a chance to notice.
The next section is ‘present tense’. Present tense refers to things happening instantaneously, in the here and now. Using the previous example, it would look like this:
I snatch the bread from the table and drop it into my lap, so that the master doesn’t notice.
Changing tenses usually requires a switch in your word choice/order. I could have kept the sentence exactly the same as before, but to me it wouldn’t sound very ‘in the present’.
When the sentence was past tense, the protagonist was in a state of knowing future events. They were recounting a tale, not telling one as it happened, so they knew that in the moments afterwards, the master didn’t have a chance to see them steal.
On the contrary, when it’s present tense, there’s a lot of unknown space ahead of each action. I think it’s best to try and write for that accordingly. It could be that I’m just picky, but I do think word choice and order can make a difference between tenses…!
Okay, so, exercise! Read through the following and replace all of the bold parts with present-tense words:
Mary trundled on ahead, chin-to-chest, the sled skittering on the ice behind her. I scooped up a handful of snow and hurled it, laughing as it burst into fine powder against her hat. Mary jerked to face me, tears in her eyes. Well, I always did have a habit of making things worse instead of better. Before I could apologise, she took off, leaving only me and the sled behind.
This is a case where you don’t have to juggle the words around if you don’t want to. It would still make great sense, even if you altered the tense. However, don’t be afraid to rewrite the whole paragraph if you want to. The words are there for you to play with, so go play!
And this leads nicely onto the next point…
Technique: Describing the Action
A common complaint from writers using the present tense mode is that it feels like you have to describe every thought and movement the character makes. However, you can still skip things out as you would in the third-person if you need to! So, if your character is going to move from the living room to the kitchen, you can end one paragraph at the living room and begin another at the kitchen with a break. Like so:
'None of it makes any sense,' says Ryan with a sigh.
'Yeah, all this talk is making me hungry.'
I lean forward on the couch, elbows on my knees, scrutinising the note and random code. That’s how it looks: random. Like someone just mashed their hands over the keyboard until they were satisfied. I know it’s not random though. We all know it isn’t, otherwise it wouldn’t be here. This is just another puzzle, only this time it’s Hard Mode.
Ryan and Luke are at the table, picking through the fruit bowl. I slam our evidence file in front of them.
'Take this seriously, would you?'
'Take the gibberish code seriously?' Ryan questions.
His sarcasm only sets Luke off…
The switch in place is abrupt, but it saves the preamble. You could keep it short and sweet like, ‘I get up from the couch and stride into the kitchen with purpose,’ but in my opinion, it’s not necessary. We already feel the protagonist’s sense of purpose with the slamming of the papers onto the table, and the resulting disagreement.
Personally, I find it easier to focus on particular actions, and not on every one. For example, we don’t need to see a character making a cup of coffee. Cut the words, and to the part where they’re holding the coffee (specifically if drinking coffee is part of their routine - there’s no need to describe it word-for-word more than once). So, in the end, if you mention every instance where the protagonist moves from one room to the other, it can get repetitive and feel a bit like filler. You don’t have to mention it every time, I don’t think.
Mainly because it affects pace… so I would reserve this mode for something action-packed and fast-paced, for when you want your reader to be in the moment. That’s why it works for The Hunger Games; there’s a lot of this happens, this happens, this happens, because everything is moving so quickly. If you’re writing a book with a slower pace, first person present might not be the best choice, particularly if you need to divide attention between several characters throughout the story.
Remember, it’s never too late to change the tense of your story if you find it’s not working out. By all means experiment - this is how you learn about what’s best for the piece…!
See below for some more resources on this matter. I’ve tried to include general advice as well as opinions on the mode itself. Happy reading and I hope my contribution (although it is simplistic) helps you out…! Best of luck :)
- Writing in First Person, Present Tense? Think Again.
- Why do you hate the first person present tense? (forum discussion)
- NaNoWriMo | First Person Present Tense (forum discussion)
- FYCD: Follower Thoughts on Present Tense
- The Present Tense, The First Person
- First Person, Present Tense: Agonising Pacing and Madness
- What About Writing?: First Person Advice
- A Few Tips for First Person Writing
- Understanding Viewpoint Terminology - Writers Write
- Choosing the Right POV
- Choosing a Narrative Point of View
- Which POV Is Right For You? A How-To on Points of View
This is a small list of website links to look at when writer a story or even a starter for roleplaying. Want to know how to describe something or someone? Check out this list.
I'm currently in the worldbuilding stage and I'm doing pretty well, but one question: How do you /decide/ anything?? I keep weighing the pros and cons of (Example), high speed trains instead of cars, but I'm unwilling to (ironically) kill some of my darlings. I know things can be changed later, but I'd like to keep it down to a minimum. So what's your process?@alwayskillyourdarlings
My process is to build as I go, and pause when I need to really develop something. I have a notepad section in my Storyist documents dedicated to worldbuilding: what I’ve already built, things I want to develop, things I still need to figure out. Having it in a searchable document is, I think, preferable to handwriting it since it’ll be easier for you to find later on.
That said, let’s chat about worldbuilding. Some things to keep in mind:
You’re building a world for a story. You are not building a story to fit a world. The world should work for the story and serve as a storytelling tool. Even in realistic works, things like consistent seasons and weather, locations, and cultural norms need to carry through into the story. And small details matter, as well. Don’t get so caught up in the planes/trains/automobiles question that you forget to develop culture, food, fashion, all that.
Maintain the mystery. Don’t give it all away in one shot. Characters and narrators don’t have to explain everything—nor should they. Let things unfold rather than bashing the reader in the face with everything you have.
Rule of Cool does not make the world go round. Yes, it’s cool. But does it belong? Part of worldbuilding is deciding what fits and what doesn’t, and this should weigh into your pros and cons. Yes, the robots are cool, but if you’re writing high fantasy, you’d better have a damn good reason for them. If not, say goodbye for the sake of a logical world.
Everything builds on everything else. Worldbuilding is not Pokémon evolution. Things don’t change independent of everything else, they influence each other and build upon each other. Consider how the cars or trains might influence other things in your world: trade, travel, communication, day-to-day life, infrastructure, population density…
(This is where I take your example and run with it.)
A good world is built for a population, not around a protagonist.
Something you might like to consider when deciding between two worldbuilding things is to figure out how each thing will be used/abused/gotten around, and what its most useful application is within your story. Find the loopholes. Figure out what people who love it will say about it, and then what people who hate it will say. There are always two (or more) sides to nearly everything in the world.
So, let’s check out the idea of travel. High speed trains and cars serve very different purposes, and we have the real-world experience to prove it.
Consider places in the world that have adopted the bullet train: Paris, France’s Métro system operates beneath a fairly densely populated metropolitan area. Citizens use the train to get to and from general areas, and walk the rest of the way. Cars are not as commonplace in Paris than they are in other parts of the world because they’re not an absolute necessity; some people walk to the train station, ride, walk to work, and repeat the process back home, and they do just fine. Going even further, France’s TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse [really fast train]) has shortened international travel to most of Europe to a matter of hours, allowing Parisians and many others to travel to and from other countries with ease. However, high speed trains can be incredibly cramped, ill-maintained dependent on funding and infrastructure, and can inconvenience you when they break down, especially if they are your sole method of transport. Building a rapid transit system will take a long time from start to finish, potentially meet some resistance in the form of budget and location (and possibly protest groups), and will be incredibly expensive. Blocking off one of the rails can range from “annoying” to “devastating,” depending on how it’s done (one person on the tracks vs. an entire protest movement launching boulders at the train cars).
Now consider cars. Cars fall short of bullet trains in that they travel slower, have lots of competition on the roads (between pedestrians, bikers, other cars, horses, maybe even some pegasi, I don’t know your story), and that they cost more in that a person either has to own or rent a car before they can drive it regularly. (And then comes the cost of fuel and maintenance cost.) They can be easily broken into and/or stolen, can be very dangerous in the wrong hands (drunk drivers, speeders, someone on the wrong side of the road), and can harm the environment. On the other hand, cars excel over bullet trains in that they can go off-road, do not have set schedules or destinations, can be privately owned, and are more useful for household projects and moving. In a car-centric culture, more people are likely to know how to drive cars, and there will almost always be one nearby. Cars are also more personal than a train will be: on a train, there are innumerable strangers that might be peeking at whatever you’re doing, where cars are nice and small. In times when fuel prices get high, people may opt out of cars in favor of things like high-speed rail (despite the fact that bullet trains use fuel, too). And then there is the ever-present question: where do you park? And what if you do if there’s truly nowhere to park?
Consider also what might fall in between. In this example, that might be something like a park-and-ride structure or a bus system. In addition to this, something beautiful about fictional worldbuilding is that you can create alternatives to whatever you think you’re stuck between, as well. This might mean bringing in pegasi and riding dragons, solving the energy crisis and making completely green cars, or something as simple as expanding a train system to mean smaller trains, bigger train maps, and more stops. There are lots of possibilities even if you’re not writing fantasy.
So: Cars are useful for transport between places of varying lengths, are good for adventuring, and tend to be privately owned and maintained. High speed trains are useful for transport between distant places, are public, and tend to be funded by governments. Neither of them are inherently better or worse, just useful in different ways. This is going to be true of a lot of things, and that is fine. Very rarely will an entire population of people agree that Thing A is unequivocally better than Thing B.
Pros and cons is probably what it will ultimately come down to, but the best way to do it is to put the things into the context of your story. Step outside your protagonist’s field of vision and check out how other people would live with one, and then the other.
Always remember, worldbuilding is a process, not a step. You may never be 100% done building your world. And that’s all right—the real world’s not done either.
Is My Protagonist a Mary Sue or Gary Stu?: A Super Quick Test
Mary Sues and Gary Stus are terrible characters. They are flat, static, and unrealistic. They are boring and they are craft failure. Don’t write them.
Does your protagonist change throughout the story?
- If no: You need to change that. Your protagonist needs to be dynamic. They need to change over time and grow as a person. Whether this change is negative or positive doesn’t matter. Good characters are dynamic, not static.
- If yes: Alright alright alright alright.
Does your protagonist have flaws?
- Your characters cannot be perfect. They need to be realistic for the reader to like them. Give them flaws.
- Making your character clumsy doesn’t count. Your character needs more flaws than that.
- Flaws should impact your character’s life in some way. This can include their relationships with other people or the decisions they make.
Do all other characters love your protagonist?
- If yes: No. Your character cannot be loved by everyone. This is unrealistic. This is lame. This is boring. This is a characteristic of a Sue/Stu. If lots of people like your character, you need a good reason for it.
- If no: Good.
- Characters who act a certain way to gain popularity through a false personality are exempt from this.
Does your protagonist ever fail?
- If yes: Good.
- If no: That is a boring character. Failure introduces suspense and sympathy from the reader.
Is your protagonist perfect in every way?
- If yes: Perfect people do not make perfect characters. They make terrible characters. They cannot be superior in every way and they cannot be the best at everything.
- If no: Awesome.
Is your protagonist a Special Snowflake? (“My eyes turn red when I’m angry even though I’m 100% human and there’s no explanation for this whatsoever.”)
- If yes: Change that. You cannot give your character super special elements with no explanation behind them. Your character cannot be unbeatable due to their super special powers that no one has ever seen before.
- If no: They better not be.
And because I get a lot of questions on whether or not a female character is a Sue, here are characters who are NOT automatically Mary Sues:
- Physically powerful female characters.
- Magically powerful female characters.
- Powerful female characters in general.
- Female characters who are not feminine.
- Female characters who are orphans.
- Female characters who hold traditionally masculine careers/roles/hobbies.
- Rich female characters.
- Tough female characters.
- Smart female characters.
- Characters who are highly skilled in several subjects.
- Characters with tragic back stories.
- Characters who are beautiful.
- Characters who have unique abilities.
- Honestly, if your character is realistic, dynamic, and round, they’re not a Sue/Stu. You can still write awesome, bad ass, inspirational characters without making them a Sue/Stu.
Do you have an resources/recomendations for creating magical weapons in a fantasy setting without resorting to the semi-ridiculous flaming sword cliche?@Anonymous
And let’s be fair, the flaming sword is completely ridiculous.
My first recommendation would be that any magical weapons you involve in your story should be in line with the pre-established internal logic of your magic system. If you don’t have elemental magic in your stories, then the likelihood of being able to create elemental weapons is… Pretty much nil.
That being said, there are a few ways you can go about making such things ‘realistic’ within your setting.
1. Blessings and Curses
Not one of my favourites, but there’s still room for blessed and cursed weapons in fantasy fiction. Weapons handed down to mortals from deities are fairly overdone, but a good old curse from a warlock or a blessing from a priest is still workable.
This is one you can play around with. You don’t need to be overdone with this stuff, and it’s always more interesting if the blessing is also a curse in some way, and vice versa. It can have some interesting effects on your characters as well as your weaponry, which is a nice little treat to give you some conflict later on.
This runs along a similar vein, but enchantments are usually more double-sided than blessings/curses. There’s also more room to play with what the weapon enhances; for example, a sword with a strength enhancement could well become an object your character relies upon for more than just killing.
Other enchantments, like those that may be elemental, can be used with practicality in mind. It’s not really very practical to wield a flaming sword. For one, the handle’s going to get very hot very quickly. For two, you’ll probably start a forest fire. For three, one wrong move and your eyebrows are gone.
But a blade that causes burns on contact might be more doable.
There’s always the idea of the ‘cause of effect’ weapon with this one, too, where the weapon itself isn’t actually anything special but has a connection to some enchantment that is triggered by its use. In that sense, the sword itself wouldn’t cause burning; the spell it is attached to would simply be triggered when it cut someone. The sword becomes a catalyst, much like a ‘magic word’.
Imbuing is usually the handiwork of blacksmiths with arcane capabilities. They forge some magical or eldritch element into the weapon itself so that the compound is the thing that does the damage. If you turned the weapon into a teapot, the teapot would still be deadly.
It’s down to your internal logic, of course, but if a compound caused rot in living flesh, it might be handy to have a dagger that is capable of doing that to people. This is probably a more ‘scientific’ approach that would require you to create some nasty elements within your world.
A conduit weapon is something like a staff that channels the energy from a magic user. It’s usually used as a focus object so that said magic user doesn’t just unleash a fireball around himself, but at a specific target. This is overused when it comes to staffs, but there’s a whole world of weapons just waiting to be attributed to a magic user.
All right, alchemy is more of a science than a magic, but if you’ve done your world-building right, the magic should feel like a science. It should have elements of science within it.
Oils and potions that can be applied to weapons could well give them interesting abilities. You could use a few poisons, too, if you want to go the old fashioned route.
Souls trapped inside? Evil spirits locked away? Malignant energies bound to the object?
That’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but it might get you thinking. I do have a few golden rules, however:
1. Your magical weapon must make sense within the internal logic of your world.
2. Your magical weapon must have a downside to its use (even if that downside isn’t immediately obvious).
3. Your magical weapon is not a character. Its use enhances your readers’ perspectives of your character.
4. We become reliant on things that make us better at something (just look at us and technology) and things that make life easier. People are more inclined to use weapons that achieve one or both of these things.
5. We become attached to those things very easily and upset when they’re taken away. Our emotional attachment to them is what makes them important.
6. A magical weapon does not make a character interesting.
7. A magical weapon should not cause phenomenal cosmic power that means you can use it as a handy deus ex machina.
8. It’s an object. A special object, but an object. It might even be your MacGuffin. But it’s still an object.
I hope that helps a teensy weensy bit.
Body Language: Eyes
So I stumbled across this really useful thing which I use for writing and wanted to share it with you all.
The eyes are often called, with some justification, ‘the windows of the soul’ as they can send many different non-verbal signals. For reading body language this is quite useful as looking at people’s eyes are a normal part of communication (whilst gazing at other parts of the body can be seen as rather rude). When a person wears dark glasses, especially indoors, this prevents others from reading their eye signals. It is consequently rather disconcerting, which is why ‘gangsters’ and those seeking to appear powerful sometimes wear them.
- When a person looks upwards they are often thinking. In particular they are probably making pictures in their head and thus may well be an indicator of a visual thinker.
- When they are delivering a speech or presentation, looking up may be their recalling their prepared words.
- Looking upwards and to the left can indicate recalling a memory. Looking upwards and the right can indicate imaginative construction of a picture (which can hence betray a liar). Be careful with this: sometimes the directions are reversed — if in doubt, test the person by asking them to recall known facts or imagine something.
- Looking up may also be a signal of boredom as the person examines the surroundings in search of something more interesting.
- Head lowered and eyes looking back up at the other person is a coy and suggestive action as it combines the head down of submission with eye contact of attraction. It can also be judgemental, especially when combined with a frown.
- Looking at a person can be an act of power and domination. Looking down involves not looking at the other person, which hence may be a sign of submission (‘I am not a threat, really; please do not hurt me. You are so glorious I would be dazzled if I looked at you.’)
- Looking down can thus be a signal of submission. It can also indicate that the person is feeling guilty.
- A notable way that a lower person looks down at a higher person is by tilting their head back. Even taller people may do this.
- Looking down and to the left can indicate that they are talking to themselves (look for slight movement of the lips). Looking down and to the right can indicate that they are attending to internal emotions.
- In many cultures where eye contact is a rude or dominant signal, people will look down when talking with others in order to show respect.
- Much of our field of vision is in the horizontal plane, so when a person looks sideways, they are either looking away from what is in front of them or looking towards something that has taken their interest.
- A quick glance sideways can just be checking the source of a distraction to assess for threat or interest. It can also be done to show irritation (‘I didn’t appreciate that comment!’).
- Looking to the left can indicate a person recalling a sound. Looking to the right can indicate that they are imagining the sound. As with visual and other movements, this can be reversed and may need checking against known truth and fabrication.
- Eyes moving from side-to-side can indicate shiftiness and lying, as if the person is looking for an escape route in case they are found out.
- Lateral movement can also happen when the person is being conspiratorial, as if they are checking that nobody else is listening.
- Eyes may also move back and forth sideways (and sometimes up and down) when the person is visualizing a big picture and is literally looking it over.
- Looking at something shows an interest in it, whether it is a painting, a table or a person. When you look at something, then others who look at your eyes will feel compelled to follow your gaze to see what you are looking at. This is a remarkable skill as we are able to follow a gaze very accurately.
- When looking at a person normally, the gaze is usually at eye level or above (see eye contact, below). The gaze can also be a defocused looking at the general person.
- Looking at a person’s mouth can indicate that you would like to kiss them. Looking at sexual regions indicates a desire to have sexual relations with them.
- Looking up and down at a whole person is usually sizing them up, either as a potential threat or as a sexual partner (notice where the gaze lingers). This can be quite insulting and hence indicate a position of presumed dominance, as the person effectively says ‘I am more powerful than you, your feelings are unimportant to me and you will submit to my gaze’.
- Looking at their forehead or not at them indicates disinterest. This may also be shown by defocused eyes where the person is ‘inside their head’ thinking about other things.
- The power gaze is a short but intense gaze that is used to impose one’s will on another, showing power without aggression.
- It is difficult to conceal a gaze as we are particularly adept at identifying exactly where other people are looking. This is one reason why we have larger eye whites than animals, as it aids complex communication.
- People who are lying may look away more often as they feel guilty when looking at others. However, when they know this, they may over-compensate by looking at you for longer than usual. This also helps them watch your body language for signs of detection.
- The acceptable duration of a gaze varies with culture and sometimes even a slight glance is unacceptable, such as between genders or by a lower status person.
- Non-visual gaze patterns (NVGPs) involve rapid movements (saccades) and fixations while we are ‘inside our heads’, thinking. Rapid movements happen more when we are accessing long-term memory and fixations more when we are accessing working memory. This is useful to detect whether people are thinking about older events or recent events (or old events that are already brought to working memory).
- Glancing at something can betray a desire for that thing, for example glancing at the door can indicate a desire to leave.
- Glancing at a person can indicate a desire to talk with them. It can also indicate a concern for that person’s feeling when something is said that might upset them.
- Glancing may indicate a desire to gaze at something or someone where it is forbidden to look for a prolonged period.
- Glancing sideways at a person with raised eyebrows can be a sign of attraction. Without the raised eyebrow it is more likely to be disapproval.
- Eye contact between two people is a powerful act of communication and may show interest, affection or dominance.
- A softening of the eyes, with relaxing of muscles around the eye and a slight defocusing as the person tries to take in the whole person is sometimes called doe eyes, as it often indicates sexual desire, particularly if the gaze is prolonged and the pupils are dilated (see below). The eyes may also appear shiny.
Making Eye Contact
- Looking at a person acknowledges them and shows that you are interested in them, particularly if you look in their eyes.
- Looking at a person’s eyes also lets you know where they are looking. We are amazingly good at detecting what they are looking at and can detect even a brief glance at parts of our body, for example.
- If a person says something when you are looking away and then you make eye contact, then this indicates they have grabbed your attention.
Breaking eye contact
- Prolonged eye contact can be threatening, so in conversation we frequently look away and back again.
- Breaking eye contact can indicate that something that has just been said that makes the person not want to sustain eye contact, for example that they are insulted, they have been found out, they feel threatened, etc. This can also happen when the person thinks something that causes the same internal discomfort. Of course, a break in eye contact can also be caused by something as simple as dried out contacts or any new stimulus in one’s immediate area, so it’s important to watch for other signals.
- Looking at a person, breaking eye contact and then looking immediately back at them is a classic flirting action, particularly with the head held coyly low in suggested submission.
- Long eye contact
- Eye contact longer than normal can have several different meanings.
- Eye contact often increases significantly when we are listening, and especially when we are paying close attention to what the other person is saying. Less eye contact is used when talking, particularly by people who are visual thinkers as they stare into the distance or upwards as they ‘see’ what they are talking about.
- We also look more at people we like and like people who look at us more. When done with doe eyes and smiles, it is a sign of attraction. Lovers will stare into each others eyes for a long period. Attraction is also indicated by looking back and forth between the two eyes, as if we are desperately trying to determine if they are interested in us too.
- An attraction signal that is more commonly used by women is to hold the other person’s gaze for about three seconds, Then look down for a second or two and then look back up again (to see if they have taken the bait). If the other person is still looking at them, they are rewarded with a coy smile or a slight widening of the eyes (‘Yes, this message is for you!’).
- When done without blinking, contracted pupils and an immobile face, this can indicate domination, aggression and use of power. In such circumstances a staring competition can ensue, with the first person to look away admitting defeat.
- Prolonged eye contact can be disconcerting. A trick to reduce stress from this is to look at the bridge of their nose. They will think you are still looking in their eyes.
- Sometimes liars, knowing that low eye contact is a sign of lying, will over-compensate and look at you for a longer than usual period. Often this is done without blinking as they force themselves into this act. They may smile with the mouth, but not with the eyes as this is more difficult.
Limited eye contact
- When a person makes very little eye contact, they may be feeling insecure. They may also be lying and not want to be detected.
- Eye contact is very important for persuasion. If you look at the other person and they do not look back at you, then their attention is likely elsewhere. Even if they hear you, the lack of eye contact reduces the personal connection.
- If you want to persuade or change minds, then the first step is to gain eye contact and then sustain it with regular reconnection.
- Staring is generally done with eyes wider than usual, prolonged attention to something and with reduced blinking. It generally indicates particular interest in something or someone.
- Staring at a person can indicate shock and disbelief, particularly after hearing unexpected news.
- When the eyes are defocused, the person’s attention may be inside their head and what they are staring at may be of no significance. (Without care, this can become quite embarrassing for them).
- Prolonged eye contact can be aggressive, affectionate or deceptive and is discussed further above. Staring at another’s eyes is usually more associated with aggressive action.
- A short stare, with eyes wide open and then back to normal indicates surprise. The correction back to normal implies that the person would like to stare more, but knows it is impolite (this may be accompanied with some apologetic text).
- When a person stares at another, then the second person may be embarrassed and look away. If they decide to stare back, then the people ‘lock eyes’ and this may become a competition with the loser being the person who looks away first.
- The length of an acceptable stare varies across cultures, as does who is allowed to stare, and at what. Babies and young children stare more, until they have learned the cultural rules.
- The eyes will naturally follow movement of any kind. If the person is looking at something of interest then they will naturally keep looking at this. They also follow neutral or feared things in case the movement turns into a threat.
- This is used when sales people move something like a pen or finger up and down, guiding where the customer looks, including to eye contact and to parts of the product being sold.
- Narrowing of a person’s eyes can indicate evaluation, perhaps considering that something told to them is not true (or at least not fully so).
- Squinting can also indicate uncertainty (‘I cannot quite see what is meant here.’)
- Narrowing eyes has a similar effect to constricted pupils in creating a greater depth of field so you can see more detail. This is used by animals when determining distance to their prey and can have a similar aggressive purpose.
- Squinting can be used by liars who do not want the other person to detect their deception.
- When a person thinks about something and does not want to look at the internal image, they may involuntarily squint.
- Squinting can also happen when lights or the sun are bright.
- Lowering of eyelids is not really a squint but can have a similar meaning. It can also indicate tiredness.
- Lowering eyelids whilst still looking at the other person can be a part of a romantic and suggestive cluster, and may be accompanied with tossing back the head and slightly puckering the lips in a kiss.
- Blinking is a neat natural process whereby the eyelids wipe the eyes clean, much as a windscreen wiper on a car.
- Blink rate tends to increase when people are thinking more or are feeling stressed. This can be an indication of lying as the liar has to keep thinking about what they are saying. Realizing this, they may also force their eyes open and appear to stare.
- Blinking can also indicate rapport, and people who are connected may blink at the same rate. Someone who is listening carefully to you is more likely to blink when you pause (keeping eyes open to watch everything you say).
- Beyond natural random blinking, a single blink can signal surprise that the person does not quite believe what they see (‘I’ll wipe my eyes clean to better see’).
- Rapid blinking blocks vision and can be an arrogant signal, saying ‘I am so important, I do not need to see you’.
- Rapid blinking also flutters the eyelashes and can be a coy romantic invitation.
- Reduced blinking increases the power of a stare, whether it is romantic or dominant in purpose.
- Closing one eye in a wink is a deliberate gesture that often suggests conspiratorial (‘You and I both understand, though others do not’).
- Winking can also be a slightly suggestive greeting and is reminiscent of a small wave of the hand (‘Hello there, gorgeous!’).
- Closing the eyes shuts out the world. This can mean ‘I do not want to see what is in front of me, it is so terrible’.
- Sometimes when people are talking they close their eyes. This is an equivalent to turning away so eye contact can be avoided and any implied request for the other person to speak is effectively ignored.
- Visual thinkers may also close their eyes, sometimes when talking, so they can better see the internal images without external distraction.
- The tear ducts provide moisture to the eyes, both for washing them and for tears.
- Damp eyes can be suppressed weeping, indicating anxiety, fear or sadness. It can also indicate that the person has been crying recently.
- Dampness can also occur when the person is tired (this may be accompanied by redness of the eyes.
- Actual tears that roll down the cheeks are often a symptom of extreme fear or sadness, although paradoxically you can also weep tears of joy.
- Weeping can be silent, with little expression other than the tears (indicating a certain amount of control). It also typically involves screwing up of the face and, when emotions are extreme, can be accompanied by uncontrollable, convulsive sobs.
- Men in many culture are not expected to cry and learn to suppress this response, not even being able to cry when alone. Even if their eyes feel damp they may turn away.
- Tears and sadness may be transformed into anger, which may be direct at whoever is available.
- A subtle signal that is sometimes detected only subconsciously and is seldom realized by the sender is where the pupil gets larger (dilates) or contracts.
- Sexual desire is a common cause of pupil dilation, and is sometimes called ‘doe eyes’ or ‘bedroom eyes’ (magazine pictures sometimes have deliberately doctored eyes to make a model look more attractive). When another person’s eyes dilate we may be attracted further to them and our eyes dilate in return. Likewise, when their pupils are small, ours may well contract also.
- A fundamental cause of eye dilation is cognitive effort. When we are thinking more, our eyes dilate. This helps explain ‘doe eyes’ as when we like others people, looking at them leads to significant thinking about how we may gain and sustain their attention.
- Pupils dilate also when it is darker to let in more light. Perhaps this is why clubs, bars, restaurants and other romantic venues are so dingy.
- People with dark irises (the colored circle around the pupil) can look attractive because it is difficult to distinguish the iris from the pupil, with the effect is that their dark pupils look larger than they are. People with light irises make the pupils easier to see, so when their pupils actually do dilate then the signal is clearer to detect, making them more attractive ‘at the right time’.
- The reverse of this is that pupils contract when we do not like the other person, perhaps in an echo of squint-like narrowing of the eyes. People with small pupils can hence appear threatening or just unpleasant.
- When a person is feeling uncomfortable, the eyes may water a little. To cover this and try to restore an appropriate dryness, they person may rub their eye and maybe even feign tiredness or having something in the eye. This also gives the opportunity to turn the head away.
- The rubbing may be with one finger, with a finger and thumb (for two eyes) or with both hands. The more the coverage, the more the person is trying to hide behind the hands.
Words to keep inside your pocket:
- Quiescent - a quiet, soft-spoken soul.
- Chimerical - merely imaginary; fanciful.
- Susurrus - a whispering or rustling sound.
- Raconteur - one who excels in story-telling.
- Clinquant - glittering; tinsel-like.
- Aubade - a song greeting the dawn.
- Ephemeral - lasting a very short time.
- Sempiternal - everlasting; eternal.
- Euphonious - pleasing; sweet in sound.
- Billet-doux - a love letter.
- Redamancy - act of loving in return.
OOH!! I LOVE these!!