- Where are the two characters in relationship to each other? How close? Does the space change? How comfortable are the characters with the space?
- How are their bodies oriented towards each other?
- How your character uses his hands and feet? Where are they placed, what are they touching?
- Visceral reactions and their signs. Visceral reactions are the automatic responses your body makes to strong emotions like fear and attraction. They’re things like increased heartbeat and breathing, blood rushing to face and neck (and genitals), sweating, increased or decreased focus, etc. Whenever something important has happened, whenever you want a strong emotional hit for the reader, remember to include the visceral reaction.
Often the words in dialog itself convey an emotion. But if there’s potential ambiguity, then you can clarify the emotion with what Margie Lawson coined “dialog cues.” Dialog cues go beyond simple dialog tags to actually convey how a line is delivered. They indicate the speaker’s volume, tone, or pitch.
Internalization is the character’s thoughts. It’s internal dialog, and it goes without saying it can carry emotion. But it’s a weak way to convey emotion, as intellectualization is one step removed from the actual feeling. Think about combining it with a physical reaction, as well.
As writers, we’re told to use all five senses in our descriptions. Writer and medical researcher Marilyn Kelly (11 Senses: Who knew?) says actually there are eleven:
- The 5 senses plus
- Sense of temperature
- Sense of time
- Sense of equilibrium/balance
- Sense of motion/speed
- Sense of pain/pleasure
- Sense of orientation
- “6th sense” – intuition/ESP
- Line of dialog
- Move by another character that
- Is overtly or subtly threatening
- Closes personal space (including touches)
- Opens personal space (including turning away)
- News or event that the character didn’t want
- News or event that the character wanted
- News or event that the character didn’t expect