Thursday, 11 February 2016


Bottom of Form
Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Describing these tells of character emotions can be a challenge.  Especially, since they occur so often in dialogue tags. My research on this amusing subject is outlined below.

Oh, Those Smiles
A Natural Smile
Produces wrinkles around the eyes.  Insincere people smile only with their mouth.  A false smile may appear stronger on one side of the face than the other.
A Tight-Lipped Smile
The lips are stretched tight across the face to form a straight line, and the teeth are concealed. It suggests that the smiler has a secret or a withheld opinion. 
A Sly Smile
This type of smile shows opposite emotions on each side of the face and often depicts sarcasm.
A Drop-Jaw Smile
This is a practiced smile where the lower jaw is simply dropped down to give the impression that the person is playful.
A Coy Smile
With the head turned down and away while looking up with a Tight-Lipped Smile. Portrays the smiler as playful, secretive, and sometimes, sexy.

Laugh Styles

A Belly Laugh
Someone not embarrassed to show feelings.
A Scaling Laugh
Hits several chords. 
A Wheeze Laugh
The vocal chords compress so instead of a chuckle or loud outburst, the sound emerges as a quiet wheeze. This suppression of mirth could be shown by a character bending down and doubling up to control their outburst.
A Boisterous Laugh
A disruptively loud noise that’s contagious to others. The laugh seems to start with a catch in the back of the throat before emerging as a rip-roaring guffaw. This expression depicts down-to-earth qualities. See #10 below.
A Snort Laugh
A push of air through the nose to express amusement.
A Mirthless Laugh
Appears rehearsed rather than genuine.  May be utilized as an expression of politeness when someone else’s attempt at humour bombs.
A Series of Staccato Laughing Gulps
A partly nervous kind of laughter with mouth pulled down at the edges before the laugh emerges in gulps that mimic the cries of an irate baby.
An Explosive Laugh
This kind of laughter starts out quietly then explodes into a boisterous laugh sometimes to mask one’s embarrassment.

Smiles & Laughter Definitions from an English Dictionary (Kuhn, 1994, as adapted by Berk, 2001)

  1. Smirk: Slight, often fleeting upturning  of the corners of  the mouth, completely voluntary and controllable;
  2. Smile: Silent, voluntary and controllable, more perceptible than a smirk; begins to release endorphins;
  3. Grin: Silent, controllable, but uses more facial muscles (e.g.,  eyes begin to narrow);
  4. Snicker: First emergence of  sound with facial muscles, but still controllable (if  you hold in a snicker, it builds up gas);
  5. Giggle: Has a 50 percent chance of  reversal to avoid a full laugh; sound of giggling is amusing; efforts to suppress it tend to increase its strength;
  6. Chuckle: Involves chest muscles with deeper pitch;
  7. Chortle: originates even deeper in the chest and involves muscles of torso; usually provokes laughter in others;
  8. Laugh: Involves facial and thoracic muscles as well as abdomen and extremities; sound of  barking or  snorting;
  9. Cackle: First involuntary stage; pitch is higher and body begins to rock, spine extends and flexes, with an upturning  of  head;
  10. Guffaw: Full body response; feet stomp, arms wave, thighs slapped, torso rocks, sound is deep and loud; may result in free flowing of  tears, increased heart rate, and breathlessness; strongest solitary laughter experience;
  11. Howl: Volume and pitch rise higher and higher and body becomes more animated;
  12. Shriek: Greater intensity than howl; sense of  helplessness and vulnerability;
  13. Roar: Lose individuality; i.e., the audience roars!
  14. Convulse: Body is completely out of  control in a fit of laughter resembling a seizure; extremities flail aimlessly, balance is lost, gasp for breath, collapse or  fall off chair;
  15. Die laughing: Instant of total helplessness; a brief, physically intense, transcendent experience; having died, we thereafter report a refreshing moment of  breathlessness and exhaustion with colors more vivid and everything sparkling; everything is renewed.

1 comment:

Tierney James said...

This was fun. Thanks for posting! I'd love to be on your blog sometime. Very nice setup. Tierney James