Short-Story-Writing-Exercises-old

Group: Short Story Writing Exercises - old

Exercise: Character Study, Body Language

This is another character study, sometimes we can learn a great deal about someone by the way they gesture, roll their eyes, walk, all things that a person does.

Write a conversation where there is no dialogue at all. No words only body language and descriptions. Any style you like and from any viewpoint. You might be suprised at what you learn about your character.


Deborah Boydston

15th August 2012


I entered the room, my head lowered and shoulders slumped. She sat on the couch, her jaw clenched, picking at the plastic on her bottled soft drink with her thumbs rapidly. She glanced quickly in my direction, but upon seeing me turned her attention back to something out of the window, taking a deep breath, with a prolonged exhalation. I put my hands behind my back, took a breath, and rocked between my heels and toes for a few moments. She continued to pick away at the bottle, never looking at it, drinking from it, but never setting it down. Nor did she acknowledge me again.

I walked over to the window, entering her line of sight. I sighed, and began to open my mouth to explain. Before I got a word out, she lowered her brow, and looked me directly in the eyes, her eyes narrowing in the process. A single shake of her head made her message clear. I looked down to the couch, my hands in my pockets. I used my toes to make lines in the carpet while I thought. She got off of the couch and walked rapidly into the kitchen, her footfalls heavier than normal.

I followed after a few minutes later. She leaned against the island facing me, her arms crossed and chest puffed out. Her head tilted towards the left, eyes still narrowed. Her feet were splayed outward, pointing to opposite side of the room. I had to fix this. I crossed the space quickly between us, putting my hand on her shoulder. As soon as I touched her, she moved, her shoulder dipping and turning away.

I grabbed desperately at her elbow, turning her back to me. Her eyes were wide when they met mine, and her arms came up and pushed against my shoulders. I kept my grip on her elbows and leaned my head across the space between us, leaning my forehead against her. I looked deep into her eyes and raised my eyebrows, imploring her with my eyes. She looked away from the gaze, her lips pressing together tightly; a small line across her face. Her jaw was still clenched.

I gently kissed her forehead and pulled back from her. She swayed a little, looking around the room, her eyes darting back and forth, looking anywhere but me. Then she closed her eyes and let out a deep sigh. Her body unwound. Shoulders slumped; head bobbed and feet turned back to me. She looked at me with weary eyes, and the corner of my mouth twitched upward and my eye brows went up briefly. She nodded and stepped forward into my arms.

I embraced her as she snuggled her head into the crook between my neck and shoulder. Her hands grabbed handfuls of my shirt and held on tight. Then a single sob shook her body. I kissed the top of her head and rubbed her back. Everything was going to be ok.


Landan Reimer

15th August 2012


Very good Landan. You did an excellent job keeping within the bounds of the exercise. The descriptions of each of your characters actions and gestures was excellent giving the reader an excellent picture of what was going on. If I were your teacher I would give you an A+. Thanks for responding I really enjoyed this piece.


Deborah Boydston

15th August 2012


I also enjoyed this read...Good work!
I find this type of descriptive writing very difficult.


Davide Castel

15th August 2012


Wow this an impressive piece of writing. I find this very difficult to do. Well done!


Cindy Beitinger

15th August 2012


Thank you ladies! I've always been fascinated by body language and its effects on communication. It's impressive how little facial movements and hand position can change the meaning of a few words.


Landan Reimer

15th August 2012


Wow! Extremely well written and following the guidelines of the exercise perfectly. This is one that I am afraid to tackle because I write dialogue so much. Body language is great, however. I once took a course in Anatomy. In Braille Now THAT is body language!.


Don Yarber

15th August 2012


A small boy spins with arms outstretched, upward and outward taking in the sun and the sky as a mother looks on with adoring eyes, a smile breaking across her lips. Her eyes well up; A single tear slides down her face. The boy laughs as his body sways from dizziness sending him falling to the ground. He rises again, addicted to the drunken feeling and the visual display he sees as the world keeps spinning while he is stopped. The mother now throws back her head and laughs. As she regains her composure, her brow furrows , serious once again, she abruptly stands; collects her things and briskly walks to her child. She reaches down for his hand and signals with her telling eyes. The boy’s smile fades and turns down. He hangs his head and follows but the boy pulls back, his body fighting for a change in direction. The mother’s eyes, once soft become steel as she re-grasps the boy’s hand. His eyes fill and overflow his lower lids, his cheeks flush, his nose running, his shoulders defeated. The mother’s eyes soften once again, she relents. She bends on one knee, reaches out to grab her son in a warm embrace. She places her hands on his little shoulders, dips her chin down so their eyes meet once again. She smiles, she nods her head toward the park. He beams, jumps, laughs, his eyes twinkle as they turn and head back toward the park once again.


Cindy Beitinger

16th August 2012


way to go Cindy! a very good image! children communicate so well with their body's as they haven't begun to grasp the complexity of lying and verbal communication. and such simple things bring them joy, which was perfectly conveyed. :) loved it


Landan Reimer

17th August 2012


Nice one Cindy. Actions speak louder than words.


Davide Castel

18th August 2012


Thank you Landan, and Lucy. Landan, you gave a very good understanding of what was being asked for in your submission. I've never tried anything like this before. It was a great exercise. I wanted so much to inject the thoughts of the mother, but thought better of it. It really allows for full interpretation by the reader when there in only body language.


Cindy Beitinger

17th August 2012


~ Hello :) I tried something different, tell me if it works! :) ~

Milo's carefree frame carries him up the hill from the lake. He walks lithely up the path towards a woman sitting at a park bench. He immediately senses sorrow permeating the woman's body, and slows his pace. He looks in the direction of the lake, then back at the woman. Upon smelling her perfume in the breeze, he walks gently over to the lady. She doesn't notice him, her face is dripping with tears. He sits at her feet, his tail wagging enthusiastically against her crippling shoes. She looks down at his concerned face, wipes her tears in surprise, and manages a faint smile. She reaches a hand to stroke the side of his head, as he tilts it to fit her palm. His soulful eye meets the woman's, and she sighs with relief. She strokes his head in thanks, and watches the sun setting over the lake. Milo settles beside her, snuggling against her knee. The woman hears herself laugh as he plays at her feet, tickling her legs with his nose. She kicks of her shoes, and strokes Milo's silky back. Looking out to the lake again, she feels the warmth of Milo's body as he lays himself down beside her. His mission accomplished Milo sinks into a pleasant slumber, with his head nuzzled onto the feet of the sad stranger.


Leoni Carlson

18th August 2012


Just beautiful Leoni! I love the feeling that you put there.
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? We've missed you!


Davide Castel

18th August 2012


Thanks! :) What a quick reply Lucy! Well I certainly have some explaining to do! I moved to Nova Scotia, and along the way my writing had sadly taken a back seat. I think I may have finally found my inspiration again. I did keep up to date with the site I checked in when I could, it's just I was too preoccupied to write anything meaningful. I'm sure you know it's hard to write when you have turmoil inside. I've really missed writing though, and being involved on Scribeslice. It's wonderful to still have your support Lucy!


Leoni Carlson

18th August 2012


I was on this site when you posted,(like 7 seconds ago).
So glad you are back and I do know how one needs to be inspired when writing.
We all go through a 'lull' when times are hectic. I will also be away next month for 2 months.
I know I will miss this site too. Look forward to reading your work when you get the inspiration.
Do you know I was thinking about you and you beat me to the punch! Weird!


Davide Castel

18th August 2012


Funny how things like that work! I was also thinking of you, and that I should get in touch again! :)


Leoni Carlson

18th August 2012


@Cindy, for someone who finds this type of writing difficult you did a very good job. Your descriptions were great and using a child was a very good idea as I agree with Landan. Children are great at body language. You also kept within the guidelines very well another A+ from me.


Deborah Boydston

18th August 2012


@Leoni, what a great idea to use a pet for this exercise. I have had at least 1 pet most of my life (I now have 4) and I could so relate to your submission. Each one has a personality and they communicate so well without saying a word. You conveyed the communication very well of pet and companion very well and I loved the idea that the pet actually had the well being of his companion in mind. Great Great addition to the exercise.


Deborah Boydston

18th August 2012


@Leoni. I loved the idea of using an animal. They communicate so effectively you demonstrated it very well here.


Cindy Beitinger

18th August 2012


I can’t move, my body is frozen in time, held down by gravity’s brute force.

But I can see.

I can see my right leg twisted, sticking into the air, my bone separating and tasting fresh air. My other leg is partly beneath me I think, I’m almost sure I can feel it. Feeling is a fleeting thing; I’m not sure what pain is supposed to be anymore, pressure is everywhere. It’s suffocating. My left arm lies a few feet from me, I can’t see my right.

I can see people.

Mrs. Elkins stands to my left. Her hands cover her mouth, to stop a scream, they are shaking-her hands. her children hide in her skirt, their tiny fists grabbing at fabric as their tiny faces turn away.

I try sending her a reassuring smile, does it show on my face?

Mother is kneeling next to me, her hands on my chest, her tears on my face, and her lips on my forehead. She’s shaking so much, her mouth is moving but my ears aren’t working.

Bones, my dog, he snuffles at my arm and tries to push it over to me.

That’s when I cry

And I shake

And try to mouth words

But I can’t see anything anymore.


Alicia Zetterholm

22nd August 2012


All of your writings are so good. I enjoyed reading them. Been a while since I have been here, so I am hoping to get inspired again by reading postings first. Good job, all of you!


Summer Breeze

25th August 2012


I am awed with the grandeur of the surroundings. As I approach, I caught your tantalizing gaze. My heart skipped a beat. Your charm is overwhelming. As I felt your lips against mine, a desire to make love has embodied my being. Overwhelming love,affection, we kissed and embrace, oblivious to others around us. Feeling the warmth of yuor body, your fingers gently caressing my back, lovingly stroking my arms, a shiver went through my spine. In comprehension at ones capabilities of bestowing a love so deep to another. One touch, one kiss, an embrace to last a lifetime.
These are the memories I will cherished forever. I loved you yesterday, I love you today and will love you tomorrow forever in a day. For my love you have gone, my life, you have taken, my thought’s you have occupied, but I will see you in heaven, as an angel. My Angel


Milabel Wood

7th October 2012


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