(Part 1 is here.)
I check out what emotions need body language in my handwritten notes and my rough drafts:
I analyze what I have written: Andrew is feeling bad – after all, he didn’t think to ask Grant to keep it a secret – so he displaces his anger at himself by getting angry at Grant, who ‘should have known’ not to reveal Andrew’s business. Andrew projects his own guilt onto Grant. But Grant is a superior – the director in the film for which Andrew is one of the leads – so Andrew must suppress his anger and feeling of betrayal, and his own feeling of guilt.
That is what I’m trying to portray by Andrew’s body language, so that Bianca can pick it up, get the information more or less correctly, but with her own skew: she immediately jumps to the why, and specifically, the why as it affects her own agenda of attracting Andrew.
So the trio of emotions in Andrew I’m trying to portray are guilt, betrayal, and anger.
Research into what others have done – and possibly what NOT to do – tvtropes.com:
This is a fun site – but be aware you will get caught for hours. Go to tvtropes.com – and do NOT say I didn’t warn you.
Packed with definitions, and chock full of examples from all kinds of media – games, film, TV, books, anime…
You can follow the well-linked site, see how your favorites use tropes or subvert tropes.
You get a good idea from wallowing in the data what things have already been done – which have been extremely overused, to the point of being cliches – and it loads your mind up with ideas you can plug into your own story.
An hour on the site is an education – and free.
They warn about spoilers – there are places where you have to select a blank area and highlight it because the text is white like the background. Be especially aware that ending tropes are full of spoilers – and there is often no effort to warn you, because they’ve told you many times that these are endings, and contain plot solutions; proceed through those at your own peril.
My go-to site – Changingminds.org:
The piece-de-resistance which ties it together for me: NOW I go to the site I have – and my notes – for body language.
Betrayal has a weight. In a world where a character experiences sudden fame and fortune, the character will have trouble figuring out who is actually for him (true friends) and who is there because of the fame and fortune (false friends). Since betrayal is one of the main themes in the story, it is worth the time to stop and get it right.
A sub-area – Micro-expressions:
These are usually quick and attenuated forms of the normal expression of the emotion. (Examples of anger micro-expressions from Changing Minds: “Eyes wide and staring; eyebrows pulled down (especially in middle); wrinkled forehead).
If you watched the TV show Lie to me, you know it is almost impossible to pin these down in real time. The show tapes people and analyzes TV news feeds so they can slow the feedback to where the show’s analysts pick up what the micro-expressions are giving away.
The show also has a ‘natural’: a person who is good at catching micro-expressions – or their implications – without needing special training. And I learn in my research that many people are actually sensitive to micro-expressions – but couldn’t tell you exactly why they think someone is lying (therefore the ‘naturals’), so I can use that for a character.
(To be concluded – Part 3.)