Why study body language?

The physical cues we give our characters when we want to show their emotions can be an incredibly powerful tool to engage the reader.

These cues, whether subtle or overt, play a pivotal role in engaging the reader’s imagination and heart. They foster an immersive reading experience that lingers long after the last page is turned.

We are innately wired to read emotions through physical cues. A raised brow, a clenched fist, a quivering lip – these gestures speak volumes about what lies within a person’s heart and mind. Similarly, in novels, characters’ physical cues provide windows into their emotional states. This allows readers to forge a deep empathetic bond.

When readers can see, feel, and almost touch the characters’ emotions, they become participants rather than mere spectators. This forges an emotional connection that transcends the boundaries of the page.


In the following extract from Tablet 23 of Son of Babylon. See how the physical cues show the reader how Bani feels. It never says he felt scared:

I heard raised voices and muffled shouting. My heart skipped, my stomach knotting with tension, the hair on the back of my neck standing on end. I gripped Mother’s ring in my fist, so smeared with dirt it no longer shone on the end of its chord. They were coming for me. I pressed my ear to the wooden door, listening for the distinctive sound of Silli-sin’s powerful voice. My heart pounded away at my ribs the moment I heard it.

Novels that employ physical cues of emotion leave a lasting imprint on readers. When a book has moved us to tears or made our hearts race, we remember it long after the details of the plot have faded. These cues become emotional landmarks within the narrative landscape. They guide our memories back to the profound impact the story had on us.


Studying body language is immensely important to an author. The more you understand about how to convey these subtle cues to the reader, the more impactful your own writing will be. There are a number of ways to learn more. One of my favourites is to the YouTube channel Charisma University.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *