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Body language as a cure for "telling"

If there is a common problem for new novelists, it is shrugging off the hard-learned instincts and habits formed in writing non-fiction in K through 12 and college.

There we were schooled in "telling" the reader everything he needs to know. We gathered lots of data and sifted it. We then organized it, packaged it, summarized it and delivered it in consumable formats that make the process of gaining information from us a near passive act on the part of the reader. We did all the work for them.
There is only ONE rule of fiction writing: Don't bore your reader.
There is nothing more boring than being told everything by a narrator, having all the decisions made for you by the narrator and wading through endless information, exposition and explanation.
Today's readers want to be the judge of what they read. They don't want to be told a character is an evil man. They want to see that character do something evil and then draw that conclusion themselves.
Readers don't want to be told a character is angry. They want to see him put his fist through a wall. They'll decide if he is angry based on his actions and his words.
Just as you form opinions about people by their words, posture, gestures, actions, and expressions in real life, you can do the very same with your fiction. Let the total character add up to the tone or emotion, attitude or mood you want to project by revealing it rather than by stating it.
And often overlooked technique for the fiction writer is body language. We send lots of messages through our gestures, signs, and body language cues.
So for those of you worried about making your character clear to the reader, resist the urge to explain (RUE). Instead, provide a collection of non-verbal indicators by adding body language to behavior and speech.
You can find endless lists of body language definitions on the internet. Find one you like, print the list out and keep it close at hand.

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