Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Case of Body Language

Body language is an interesting concept when it comes to writing. How to convey it? Should you even try to do it at all? I'm a firm believer in using it. Sometimes it’s a sad state of affairs that actors aren't much into using it. At least some do though, and I automatically gravitate toward them. There was an interesting scene in a recent episode of the TV show "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" where one of the main characters, Harriet, was talking to a lawyer about something and the general feeling was that Harriet's truthfulness was a problem. This scene took place just prior to the "wrap party" and Harriet was in her party dress. In a move that was just brilliant and seems to defy mere description she grabs the flare skirt-ish part of the dress and gives it a brief twirl or swing.

What is being said with this gesture? It is a mix of many things at different levels. There's something of a look at me, this is a nice dress, and I'm going to a party kind of vibe. It's childish, and a bit fidgety, but yet it's also part, I'm going to ignore the suggestion that the truth can be a bad thing, and also, okay I have to get myself in the right headspace for the party so I don't cause any kind of a scene, and so I don't impose my problems on others.

It's a flood of things said in this short one or two seconds, mixed with other body language, facial expression, and most importantly deep connection to both what was said just before it and to the on-going characterization of Harriet. Maybe it has to be seen to be understood. However to even approach that in a story, that's pure gold. Body language can be like that. There are different manifestations of body language beyond how one holds themselves while speaking. Amongst them are things like gestures or fidgeting, general comportment and demeanour. Most importantly it’s all a manifestation of behaviour, a conveyor of emotion, and it's pure character.

Mood: crazy.
Music: Cumbersome by Seven Mary Three and Sugar, We're Goin Down by Fall Out Boy.

Seven Mary Three: American Standard
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Fall Out Boy: From Under The Cork Tree

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