About jmralley

Persecuting Abi is my debut novel and I'm thrilled with the reviews so far. When not at my day job, I split my free time between writing, crafting and caring for my rabbits.

Body language

Ah, another one I see a lot of new writers miss. The whole body language can add so much more to your writing. My pet peeve are all those adverbs and this can remove most, if not all of them.

So, where to start, I hear you ask. Easy. Think about the situation you’ve just put your character in. Then imagine how you’d react.

Now, I can’t cover every situation, but enough to give you a start. And, remember, most can cover more then one emotion, so please get the setting right first.

The Head Tilt – Now, this is one we all do. But why? Well, mainly when we are listening to someone and want to make them realise we are paying attention. Maybe, we are waiting for a response to a question and tilt our head with maybe a slightly scrunched up brow.

Rubbing a hand over chin or beard – The person is thinking, but is it good or evil thoughts. If he’s standing up, straight and tall, might be good. Now imagine him bending over a victim. Someone tied up. It’s way different. Add in some icy eyes and even I’m getting a chill.

Eye contact – This is a good one. If they make direct eye contact, they are trying to be dominant or are confident. Lowered and they are submitting or unsure.

Arms crossed – Your character is being defensive. Or are they? Now imagine them with slumped shoulders, moist eyes, and crossed arms It gives a completely different response. Now they are hurt, Maybe rubbing their arms as they shiver. Maybe they are spilling their heart about a bad situation or some abuse they suffered.

Tapping their fingers – Impatient. But maybe they are taping their lips for a kiss? Tapping the table in time to the music?

Nail biting – Nervousness. Does your character bite their nails all of the time? Is it no more habit? Maybe they are in a difficult situation and have just started?

Rubbing hands together – This can be a fun one. Why do you rub your palms together. cold and trying to warm up. How about we go back to leaning over a victim and have our villain run his hands together? I’d dread to think what their next move might be.

Clenched fist – Basically move away because they are angry. Probably trying not to hit someone.

Reduced body space – A confident person will like lots of space around them. It can also make you feel more confident. A person who shuffles up and reduced their own body space is feeling intimidated. If the body turns slightly to the side, it becomes more of an aggressive stance.

And last but not least, the romantic body language – Women may lick their lips, wink, walk in a sexy way.

A man may have a relaxed stance, uncrossed arms. If he crosses his legs, then he may have lost interest or nervous

Touch is very important. They might run their fingers up the other person’s arms. Run a thumb over their cheek. Brush against their interest. They can’t keep their eyes of each other.

So, there you go. It’s not always simple and you have to add in the other details to make the emotion and gesture obvious. More on that later when I discuss the emotions on their own.

Body Language, Female, Presence, Minimal, Woman, Girl


This is the one thing that can make or break your book, and we all hate them. Too much and the readers turn off, and too little, they vanish too. Finding the right happy middle ground can be hard going.

So, I’m going to help you along with some ways of describing things. Be it emotion, places, situations, or a person.

Today, I’m starting with eyes. Yes, eyes. They say the eyes are the soul to a person and they do show their emotion. Next time, watch a person’s eyes and gauge their emotions from them alone.

If they shine, bright, vibrate, gleaming, then they are probably happy. Moist or shimmering – about to cry but from sadness or happiness?

If they are angry, have they hardened or gone dark? Tired – the eyelids might be droopy.

Crying – puffy, bloodshot, red-rimmed, swollen.

They can be narrowed or slit, penetrating, soft, sparkly – all depending on the mood. And the description must be right.

For the shape try – almond, deep-set in the face, cross-eyed, oval, round, prominent, symmetrical, off-set.

And the colour? Blue, brown, green – yes, but isn’t that a bit bland? How about vibrate green, mahogany brown, chestnut brown, emerald green. Doesn’t that sound so much better?

How about icy? Icy blue or her eyes turned icy the moment she set eyes on him. Oh, can you imagine the room going cold around them?

Angelic – she gazed at me with her angelic eyes showing me her innocence. An innocence I was about to take. Oh, I so have to use this one in the future.

Intoxicating – The moment our eyes meet, I knew she’d drink me dry the first chance she had.

Back to dark, I love this one for eyes – When our eyes meet, I realised the trouble I might be in. The darkness in his eyes sent my heart into a shiver, like he hunted me. Or maybe – The way his eyes darkened, made me understand he’d do anything to get our child back.

So, what have you learned? Not to use the eye colour as a bland description, and how to add the emotion to their eyes. Adding their emotion brings out their feeling without all those dialogue tags. You know the ones – angerly, happy. Get rid of them all. It will tighten your writing and draw the reader in.

Eye, Watercolor, Art, Sketch

Ask, Writing, Who, What, How, Why, Where

The questions all writers must ask themselves.

  1. Who

One of the main questions is who are you writing about? Who are your main characters? The minor characters will trundle along at their own pace, but the main ones must be well known to you.

Are they in a relationship? Hate each other? Learning about life? Favourite color, flower etc.. Married, divorced, single? Birthday – oh, they have to have a birthday. Hair/eye color. All the little things must be covered.

But, you don’t need to know this all at the start of your story. I build my characters as I go along. They have also been known to change hair color and length half way through – this is a fun one to chase al the previous mentions. I once changed the surname of one mc.

2) When

Now, this isn’t as easy at it appears. The timeline must fit the story. No use writing about Vikings in modern England.

Think about if you are writing in modern times, or if your story fits a more historical fiction.

2) Where

Ah, another consideration. I have a series based in Scotland because it fits the story. Another in England. And another in America. Why America? Because my mc’s were cops and needed to carry a weapon while on duty. In the UK, most don’t.

Think about where your story feels at home, and don’t worry if you have to change the place half way through.

Oh, and it’s fiction – the place doesn’t even have to exist. I invented Starthberg in Scotland. You can even exaggerate the area. I’ve never been to LA but there’s now an alleyway leading to a wood. Not sure if it exists.

4) How

Now this one who can have fun with. How do your mc’s meet? At this point you can think right out of the box. Anything within reason goes. Just make it believable.

How does the story fit together? Do your characters and places work together? If not, change them. It’s your story and you can do whatever you want.

And last of all – how do you want the story to progress and end? If it helps, plot out an outline.

5) Why

You can take this anyway your want.

Why are you writing a book? Because you just wan to say you have? Maybe not. The best stories are those whose writers have poured their heart into it. Those who have characters shouting at them.

Why are you even releasing the book? Now, this isn’t has daft as you thing. Lots of people have wrote something and never published. So, why are you? Me – I have a story to tell. I want to entertain people.

5) What

What? What are you doing? Shouldn’t your be writing and not reading this? Go on, get those fingers going.