Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tells of a Liar

Ever want to hint to your readers that one of your characters is lying without blatantly telling them? Throw in those tiny details that may be unnoticed at first, but when readers think back they’ll scream Why did I not catch that?
I present to you the tells of a liar. The following techniques are used by police, forensic psychologists and security experts.
Body Language:
~Physical expression is limited and stiff. Hand, leg, and arm movements are toward their own body (the liar takes up less space)
~Avoid making eye contact
~Hands touching face, throat, mouth. Scratching the nose or behind the ear
~Facial expression is limited to the mouth, the entire face isn’t involved (forced/faked expression)

Emotional Gestures:
~Timing is off between emotional gesture/expressions and words (Example: someone saying “You’re the best!” and then smiling rather than smiling at the same time the statement is made.)
~Timing of emotion and emotional gesture is irregular. Emotions are delayed, stay longer than natural and then stop suddenly.

~Subconsciously placing an object between self and another person
~Becomes defensive
~Uncomfortable facing accuser. Will turn head or body away

Verbal Clues:
~Using part of the question in the answer. (Example: Accuser asks, “Did you take my book?” The liar will answer, “No, I did not take your book.”)
~Responses with contractions are more likely to be truthful. (“I can’t go with you tonight.” Instead of, “I cannot go with you tonight.”)
~Words may be garbled/spoken softly. Grammar and syntax may be a bit off. In other words, sentences will be muddled instead of emphasized.
~A truthful statement will emphasize the pronoun as much or more than the rest of the sentence. Liars sometimes leave the pronoun out altogether and speak somewhat monotonously.

Have fun sneaking these into your scenes!
Any other tells of a liar? Post them below. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is She Interested?

Recently, I was watching Millionaire Matchmaker — don’t ask me why, it’s a train wreck of a show. Anyway, on the show a body language expert explained to one of the millionaires signs to look for in women to gauge their interest level. Some of the tips regarding first dates might be useful in your writing. So I’m sharing.
Signs of insecurity:
grooming, playing with hair/clothes/etc., talking about self, nervous laugh, unable to maintain eye contact, tripping over words, blushing, sweating
Signs that she IS interested/physically attracted:
leaning forward, regular eye contact, touching, making excuses to touch, legs crossed and pointed at the other person, toes pointed in the direction of the other person**, torso squarely facing the other, eyes lingering on particular details of the face including the mouth and sweeping the hair, lips parting slightly, slight nostril flare, hair flipping, moistening lips, running palm over neck gently
Signs that she is NOT interested:
shoulder turned away from other person, leaning back in chair, arms folded
 **This one is my favorite. I’ve never heard this before.
These are just a few. A fantastic place to find more body language examples is The Bookshelf Muse where Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman name body language cues to their associated emotions.
Happy writing!

Any other links you use for body language? Leave them in the comments below.