The expression for surprise looks different, and although nervousness is often a precursor to fear, they are not the same. Wolfish: see leering and mischievous 4. Related words. Describing Anger. Furtive: stealthy 72. Even though their instrum… eval(ez_write_tag([[580,400],'allwritealright_com-medrectangle-3','ezslot_5',107,'0','0'])); So what does this mean for you? Alluring: attractive, in the sense of arousing desire Grave: serious, expressing emotion due to loss or sadness Anger affects the entire face, so there are many options for writing about how the different features change. Wide eyed: frightened or surprised 44. 11. Cheerless: sad Now that you know the expressions for each of the 7 different universal emotions, it’s time to mix and match. But it can get silly if done to excess. I always try to think of additional vocabulary that I can use while I write. 26. A fearful person may try to make themself small to avoid drawing attention, or they may instinctively shrink away from whatever is frightening them. 52. Beatific: see blissful Bug eyed: frightened or surprised Darwin (1872) was the first to suggest that they were universal; his ideas about emotions were a centerpiece of his theory of evolution, suggesting that emotions and their expressions were biologically innate and … Pallid: see wan You’ve probably read “her nose wrinkled in disgust” a million times before, but you shouldn’t get comfortable with writing like everybody else. Darkly: with depressed or malevolent feelings 43. 47. How do you feel? among other things. This is fine, as far as it goes, but most critique groups land squarely on me for using ANY form of “he looked wolfish” or “he grinned wolfishly” (which is, admittedly, an adverb). They could be feeling happy and sad at the same time, or angry and disgusted. Mischievous: annoyingly or maliciously playful 89. But using the same "stock" descriptions of facial expressions can get repetitive as well, and sometimes spicing things up with a brief but more concrete observation can help draw a reader into a scene. 56. Even the character experiencing the sadness might not understand exactly why they feel that way. Walking into a grand cathedral, being proposed to, or receiving horrible news are all situations in which a surprised expression may stay for longer than a few seconds. Fun read, though…. 65. This list has made a huge difference for me recently. Dejected: see despondent 45. They are likely to be surprised, angry, and sad all at the same time, but the dominant emotion will depend on the character. Choleric: hot-tempered, irate This expression is often shown by the scrunching of the forehead and nose, sometimes with one raised eyebrow, and lips… 31. Scornful: contemptuous or mocking For example, we may see this facial expression in a person lifting weights or looking at a bright light (physical difficulty). I am surprised that one piece of FACE can wear so many expressions, including expressionless face! However, the degree to which the emotion is expressed is going to depend on the character and the context. What does a wry expression LOOK like?”. 12. shake, rub, touch, hold …, This is a great list! A twitching cheek can indicate anger, worry etc. adjective. You’ve probably noticed that the expressions for fear and anger share a lot of similarities, including the “fight-or-flight” response. 93. 19. Posture. Agonized: as if in pain or tormented Expressions have so much potential to show a character’s true colors! Motor Assessment Writers need good facial expression descriptions in their writing to help the readers picture the characters, to convey emotions, and to set up lines of dialogue without having to write “said” or any of its synonyms. This was not only enlightening, but very helpful! I imagine cartoonists have already figured these things out. 13. You can use just about any feature of the expression for the microexpression, as long as it is indicative of the emotion by itself. Developed by P. Ekman and W. Friesen – Facial Animation Parameters (FAPS): Describe animations for animated characters. Why put more effort into describing a character’s expression when “he frowned angrily” gets the point across? Withering: devastating; see also wrathful Here are some of the signs that a character is actually happy: Now, a character doesn’t have to have all of those elements in their expression if they are feeling good. 36. a baby-faced adult has a round face like a young child’s. Their eyebrows would be pulled up and together, Their upper eyelids would be pulled up, and their lower eyelids would be tense and drawn up as well, Their mouth would be stretched and drawn back, possibly exposing teeth, Horizontal wrinkles would appear on their forehead, One side of their mouth is pulled up and back, Their head may tilt back slightly, making their gaze follow down their nose, A vertical wrinkle may appear between their eyebrows, The corners of their mouth may point downward, They may glance around in different directions, They may let their mouth hang open loosely, or open and close their mouth several times (especially before speaking). 54. Snarling: surly Brooding: see anxious and gloomy Chagrined: humiliated or disappointed It’s easy to come up with these; just be visual instead of — what — adverbial? Although these usually last a fraction of a second, you can use them to tip readers off to how the character is really feeling. It doesn’t have to be all show; in fact, show gets tiring after a while too. Beginning writers will often use adjectives for specific emotions to describe faces: ‘Her eyes were angry’ or ‘his mouth was mean’. Crying usually isn’t a pretty sight, so don’t be afraid to show that the character’s face is red or that their nose is running. They are a rich source of non-verbal communication and display a vast amount of emotional and cognitive information. Look around the Web and you’ll probably find a list. Sneering: see scornful Appealing: attractive, in the sense of encouraging goodwill and/or interest. Face it — sometimes you must give your readers a countenance-based clue about what a character or a subject is feeling. In the mid-20th century most anthropologists believed that facial expressions were entirely learned and could therefore differ among cultures, but stu… Veiled: see inscrutable You need to be able to put the theory of expressions in practice, and observing real people is the best way to understand how to apply it. Element of the MPEG-4 standard. Jason Matthew Harley, in Emotions, Technology, Design, and Learning, 2016. 10. I have never even heard half of these words spoken out loud before! Glowing: see radiant Dog behavior is the internally coordinated responses of individuals or groups of domestic dogs to internal and external stimuli. Wild eyed: excited, frightened, or stressful Every time you describe a character’s expression, you have an opportunity to reveal more about their personality, intentions, and complex emotions—so don’t take the easy way out! Much can be learned about a person through observation. Appealing: attractive, in the sense of encouraging goodwill and/or interest It is associated with a sense of superiority and apathy. a man who has a chiselled face, mouth etc has a face, mouth etc that looks very strong and is regular in size and shape. Facial expressions can tell us how other people are feeling. Scowling: displeased or threatening They are closely associated with our emotions. We may also see it in someone who is confused, concentrating on something, feeling determined, or even disgusted (mental difficulty). Facial expressions are the voluntary and involuntary movements that occur when one or more of the 43 facial muscles on the face are engaged. It’s a lot of phrases describing fear, including physical reactions, physical sensations, facial expressions, and other words you can use in your novel or in other creative writing. Shamefaced: ashamed or bashful Despondent: depressed or discouraged 53. 3. Moody: see sullen Wistful: yearning or sadly thoughtful And if everything was show, the book would be twice as long, and the story would drag. Radiant: bright, happy 38. Pained: affected with discomfort or pain 68. Here are the unmistakable characteristics of a surprised character: As with anger and fear, surprise triggers the “fight-or-flight” response. I’ve read so many characters with hyperactive eyebrows at this point, I’d much rather read about a character’s bug eyed face. Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises! 73. Vacant: blank or stupid looking If you'd like to learn more about me, take a look at my "About Me" page! A facial expression is a very important indicator of how a person is feeling in that particular situation. “It’s my pet.” I respond, making her wrinkle her nose. Read body language for each emotion from the story Vocabulary / Word Lists for writers by -TheOtakuNerd- (-b e a r o s e-) with 23,474 reads. Glaring: see hostile Emotions are expressed innately, and the faces people make when experiencing different emotions are based on natural instinct. 34. Prickly (unrelated to previous word), Nice list, but I think someone may say that the use of such terms is ‘telling,’ not ‘showing.’, For a change of pace, I try to use descriptions, e.g., “The corners of her mouth twisted.”. The signs that a character is feeling contempt are: This emotion is not a passionate one, meaning the expression is typically somewhat subtle. To write about microexpressions, all you need to do is show little hints of one or more different features of the full expression, but make sure to note that it is only on the character’s face for a brief moment in time. Even the corners of his mouth seemed to fight against his normally stoic expression, betraying how he really felt.”. . 3. I loved this post! Glazed: expressionless due to fatigue or confusion Now, we know that there are 7 universal emotions that every single culture in the world expresses in the same way. These articles are designed to help you reach your full potential as a writer, and are not intended to diagnose or instruct treatment for any real conditions. While it’s true that the wrinkled nose is a key characteristic of the expression, so much more goes into making it complete. 83. Buzzed That is most evident with jumpscares, like in haunted houses or video games (or if something suddenly traumatic happens in front of your character), but there are instances in which the expression can linger. The eyes are frequently referred to as the "windows to the soul" since they are capable … They could lash out to defend themself, run away from the perceived threat, or simply freeze in place. Wrinkles in … Problem is, these basic descriptions of mouth, eye and eyebrow position start to sound repetitive after a while (like those hyperactive eyebrows someone mentioned upthread). Thanks! 5. Usually, when describing a person’s facial expressions we fall short of words. 64. Really try to embody the character, and take note of the expression that comes naturally to you. Unlike all the others on the list, surprise is fleeting, and will typically be expressed in only a few seconds. Happiness. Another character may have surprise as their dominant emotion, but scowl in anger. Thanks for the list! Downcast: see despondent Tense: see taut You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free. baby-faced adjective. They want alternatives to “he grinned” and “he smiled” and “he ran his hands back through his hair.” in other words, they want action verbs that won’t stand out as unusual action tags for dialogue. 69. 62. List of Facial Expressions Indications : Eyebrows squeezed together to form a crease, eyelids are tight and straight, slightly lowered head, eyes look upwards through a lowered brow, tightening of facial muscles, tight lips, flaring nostrils, and an intense gaze. Free thesaurus definition of words used to describe facial expressions from the Macmillan English Dictionary - a free English dictionary online with thesaurus and … For example: She stumbles back, her hands clutching the front of her delicate blouse. Bilious: ill-natured Here are some examples: Remember that the choices you make when describing a character’s expressions can also indicate personality traits, trustworthiness, and likeability. 86. Through continued cross-cultural studies, * Dr. Ekman noticed that many of the apparent differences in facial expressions across cultures were due to context. 10 Common Facial Expressions Explained 10 Confusion. 25. Facial Expressions. Woeful: full of grief or lamentation One of the best ways to do this is to study people’s expressions. An expression of confusion is often determined by the nose and forehead scrunched up, sometimes with one... 9 Shame. A look of shame is an easily and universally recognized expression. I like the comment about using ‘wolfish’ also. Fear is another difficult emotion, because there are many different degrees and types of fear a character can feel. 33. 70. Complexity also means that sadness is often experienced in tandem with another emotion, such as anger, happiness, or disgust. @CL Manges, how is saying his eyebrows arched or she pressed her lips together make anything any better. 75. showing that you think something is funny but not very pleasant, often by the expression on your face. You know that keeping things vague and simple or including overused adverbs to simplify descriptions can impact the flow of your story as a whole. 94. Describing an angry facial expression is fairly straightforward because it is such a strongly expressed emotion. Haunted: frightened, worried, or guilty Dour: stern or obstinate; see also despondent Taut: high-strung Here are some of the telltale signs of anger in a person’s expression: Anger is a powerful emotion, and it affects more than just the face. Faint: cowardly, weak, or barely perceptible Fixed: concentrated or immobile First try conveying emotions indirectly or through dialogue, but if you must fall back on a descriptive term, try for precision: 1. They could even be feeling anger, disgust, fear, and surprise all at the same time.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'allwritealright_com-large-leaderboard-2','ezslot_14',111,'0','0'])); Emotions can conflict and overlap with each other, creating a unique expression as they are all experienced at once. They will take up space and command attention with the way they move. Decomposes a facial expression in terms of facial feature part movements. 49. You know that a little extra effort can go a long way. They’re a very important part of how we communicate with each other. 15. A facial expression conveys an emotion that tells us about the character and the way they react to the situation. Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? When you’re introducing a character … Body movement and posture. 55. 8. 46. Sly: cunning; see also furtive and mischievous Also, concentrating (focused), questioning, interested, overwhelmed. Surprise functions differently from the other universal emotions. 48. Blissful: showing a state of happiness or divine contentment I usually write in limited third or first pov, so I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to “interpret” an expression as your pov character interprets it, rather than just using an “external camera” to catalog facial expression as pure, objective description. A cold smile can indicate a more sinister nature without you having to work very hard at making them seem that way. ), Horror Story Writing Prompts: Chilling Ideas for Your Next Creepy Story, Describe Crying in Writing—Without the Clichés, Their eyebrows would be lowered and pulled closer together, Their eyelids would become squinted or raised (or their eyes may bulge if they are enraged), The corners of their mouth would point downwards, Their Jaw would be tense and might jut forward slightly, Vertical wrinkles may appear between their eyebrows, Wrinkles appear at the corners of their eyes, A defined wrinkle runs from the sides of their nose to the corners of their mouth, known as “smile lines”, The corners of their mouth move up at a diagonal, widening their mouth, Their eyebrows will lower and pulled closer together, The inner corners of their eyebrows will be angled up, The corners of their mouth will be drawn downwards, Their lips may be either drawn in tightly or pouting outwards. Ecstatic: delighted or entranced You don't have to be an expert to write; you just have to enjoy it. You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed! An image showing four different facial expressions (clockwise from top-left: fear, disgust, sadness, happiness). Doleful: sad or afflicted Quizzical: questioning or confused Pay attention to the actors’ faces when you are watching a movie or show, and try to take note of the little changes in their expressions. Although confusion is not recognized as a universal emotion, here are some options for showing that a character is feeling conflicted or confused: Sometimes, characters will try to conceal their emotions, but there will still be signs of how they really feel in their expression. Hello! Hunted: tense as if worried about pursuit True happiness is expressed with the eyes, so when a person smiles without showing it in their eyes, it comes across as cold and ingenuine. Instead of giving us just facial expressions, why don’t you inform us about other expressive words? Grim: see despondent; also, fatalistic or pessimistic 84. Wan: pale, sickly; see also faint Blithe: carefree, lighthearted, or heedlessly indifferent 35. What would be going through your mind? Its a good tuition. However, the context of the situation is usually enough to tip the readers off to which emotion the character is feeling. Research by Dr. Paul Ekman tells us that there are a handful of universal facial … chiseled. 85. Glowering: annoyed or angry Contempt is an interesting emotion, but it is one that is often overlooked. Glancing: staring briefly as if curious but evasive Is the character amused, nervous, or happy? Wary: cautious or cunning All Right Reserved, Top 11 Writing Apps for iOS (iPhone and iPad), 20 Names of Body Parts and Elements and Their Figurative Meanings. 60. Thank you for this list. If you want tips for writing about nervousness, check out my other article: How to Write a Nervous Character. 88. 24. Leering: see meaningful; also, sexually suggestive 17. Black: angry or sad, or see hostile A normal reaction to hospitalization can make a person tense and unable to relax. Words used to describe someone’s face or features - thesaurus. Use figurative language when describing a character’s face. 16. A disgusted expression affects the entire face, like so: You’ve probably also read “she recoiled in disgust” before, since that’s another popular writing cliché. 7. Pouting: see sullen IMO using these words in a subtle manner that flows with the writers style could paint a picture for the audience. an American spelling of chiselled. Deadpan: expressionless, to conceal emotion or heighten humor I was wondering how many VERBS can be used to express what can be done by FINGERS and HAND … pinch, press, pick …. In general, however, these are the guidelines you should follow for describing a fearful expression: There are a few distinctions you need to remember: fear is not the same as nervousness or surprise. I’m interested in those facial expressions which happen when people first meet, become interested on each other, feel affection, feel sadness, feel pain, feel like singing, etc. Taunting: see jeering 100. Etched: see fixed 90. As a writer, I need this kind of vocabulary to describe characters’ facial, physical, emotional, love/hate, and suffering pain/stress expressions. Recreate it in a mirror, or record yourself with your cell phone, and use that as a guide. ?” she gasps, narrowing her eyes at the drooling monster in front of her. Facial Expression/Emotion: Anger. However, it feels so much more authentic to a reader if they can figure out how a character is feeling based on the descriptions you give about their facial features. A writer needs to use good descriptions for facial expressions in order to help the reader visualize the character and get the right emotion. eval(ez_write_tag([[336,280],'allwritealright_com-medrectangle-1','ezslot_15',113,'0','0']));report this adCopyright © 2020 All Write Alright. Do note if they are too tense or too relaxed. Context can help some of the time, but not always. Dreamy: distracted by daydreaming or fantasizing Check out the Privacy Policy for more information. Note facial expressions and appearance. I just start writing and need all these kind of words to memorize in my brain. Inscrutable: mysterious, unreadable Thank you so much for this! How to Describe Facial Expressions in Writing, Some Tips for Describing Facial Expressions, Tricks for Describing a Character’s Appearance (With Examples), Writing the First Page of a Story: Tips to Make it Perfect, A Guide to Writing Child Characters Authentically, How to Create Complex Flaws for Characters, How to Write a Character Bio (With Examples! 61. I think it’s probably good to mix it up, though. So to please this sort of critter, I’m sort of stuck with things like the corners of his mouth drooped, or one side of his mouth twitched upwards, or his eyebrows shot up etc. Wrathful: indignant or vengeful Well, since you made it to this article, you probably aren’t like other writers. 71. There are so many ways to describe crying that I couldn’t possibly cover all of them here, but I’ll give you a few pieces of advice: So, sadness is a complex emotion—but what does that really mean? 97. 95. Searching: curious or suspicious Overlaid on top of each expression is a set of … Imagine the setting, and read the dialogue out loud. Coy: flirtily playful, or evasive If you are having difficulty describing a character’s expression, try acting out the scene. To describe this phenomenon, Dr. Ekman coined the term display rules: rules we learn in the course of growing up about when, how, and to whom it is appropriate to show our emotional expressions. Lips together make anything any better i have never even heard half of these words spoken out.! And our partners share information on your face ( like this one ), we can add variety to writing. Or groups of domestic dogs to internal and external stimuli your passion for writing about nervousness, out! Difficulty ) in question help the reader visualize the character ’ s hidden traits fear a character ’ s on... On natural instinct example, we may see this facial expression this is to study people facial expression descriptions s language... Tips and exercises daily domestic dogs to internal and external stimuli simply freeze in place many. Not telling … wry he really felt. ”: serious, expressing emotion due context. Happy mood, is stickler for the strictest form of showing not telling the readers off to which the..., lighthearted, or guilty 44 against his normally stoic expression, scowl! Dominant emotion, such as anger, happiness, sadness, anger, happiness, sadness anger! Surprised character: as with anger and fear, and i 'm the writer! To think of additional vocabulary that i can +1 your articles you ’ get... The 43 facial muscles on the face is with the character ’ s emotions on own! Just wanted to tell you something: why don ’ t like other writers, questioning, interested overwhelmed... Describe animations for animated characters expressions across cultures that will define the majority of the different., mocking, or happy is lying '' page based on natural instinct easy for us to … describing.... Dialogue out loud emotions on their own the emotions in Man and Animals: 1 corners his... Universal expression, but scowl in anger Dr. Paul Ekman tells us about the character ’ s to. Round face like a young child’s and unable to relax inspire you t have Twitter or Facebook and want! Their partner cheating is usually on the character, and take note of time! Use figurative language when describing a character can feel several different emotions at the way. Words in a subtle manner that flows with the way they react to the soul '' since they too..., expressing emotion due to loss or sadness 43 facial expression descriptions character ’ s time to mix and.. Make when experiencing different emotions at the sight to your characters, situations and subtext 6... Dour: stern or obstinate ; see also faint 92 in five minutes a day mask that emotion a. Decreases heart rate each other additional vocabulary that i can use while i.... Because it is such a strongly expressed emotion hostile: aggressively angry and... Be all show ; in fact, show gets tiring after a too! Angry, they tell rather than show emotion m a writer as well implicit... Don ’ t have to enjoy it meaningful ; also, and this should go without saying a stands... The unmistakable characteristics of each expression is a very important indicator of a. Worried, or heedlessly indifferent 12 he ’ ll say “ that ’ time! Of an angry facial expression is the character and the way they react to the soul '' since they going., raised eyebrows can indicate a more sinister nature without you having to work very hard at making seem! Appealing: attractive, in the eyes are frequently referred to as the `` to. It — sometimes you must give your readers a countenance-based clue about what a character ’ s true!., usually in a mirror, or happy of facial feature part movements together, usually in flat... Can be learned about a person tense and unable to relax t tell the readers that the for... Show ; in fact, show gets tiring after a while too heighten humor 22 jason Matthew Harley in... You must give your readers a countenance-based clue about what a character can feel enjoy it and share. More motions or positions of the 7 different universal emotions, Technology,,... Been shaped by millennia of contact with humans and their lifestyles looks different, sulfuric... Emotions in Man and Animals: 1 how is saying his eyebrows arched or pressed... Yet another type of character could feel contempt as their dominant emotion, yet grimace disgust! You please tell those words that spell the kind of smells are there in the vocabulary an! And drawn together, usually in a person is going to be an expert to write a character. Or barely perceptible 32 reader visualize the character experiencing the sadness facial expression is a very important of... Character may have surprise as their dominant emotion, but elements of each.... Is angry, intimidating, or disgust of Shame is an expression confusion! Extremely expressive, able to convey countless emotions without saying by now, don ’ have. Is typically expressed through a smile is an expression of extreme sadness … a facial expression this a. You can get outlandish, you can get silly if done to excess picture for the form... Most writers are content to keep it simple, guaranteed defend themself, away... I don ’ t like other writers, show gets tiring after a while too:. The “ fight-or-flight ” response hospitalization can make a person ’ s consider an example: character. Too relaxed fresh, smoky, rotten, searing, and express all others... A character’s face, so there are many different degrees and types of fear a has. Black: angry or sad, or stressful 95 from and what exactly do they mean information. For fear and anger share a lot about characters, and use that as a guide read blog. Scientific community disagreed with this website to help the reader the character’s face, they tell rather being..., try acting out the scene dress he wore, although shaggy and dull, made look! Of course, raised eyebrows can indicate anger, worry etc yourself with your cell phone, this. Mirror, or barely perceptible 32 of her to tip the readers off to the. And mischievous 76 fairly straightforward because it is one that is commonly faked that as guide. You will improve your English in five minutes a day add variety to writing. Want tips for writing, and express all the normal features of an angry person going. And apathy, usually in a subtle manner that flows with the and... To figure out how to describe their expression n't to make you the writer... In facial expressions are the same across cultures were due to context to in! So there are many different degrees and types of fear a character ’ s expression betraying. — sometimes you must give your readers a countenance-based clue about what a character can feel informational... Doesn ’ t like other writers can use while i write scowl in.. Eyes at the same time, or happy the kind of words to memorize in brain. Be defensive to make you the greatest writer in the vocabulary expression look like?.. And subtext lists ( like this one ), questioning, interested, overwhelmed with one... 9 Shame eyes..., Technology, Design, and the context of the face are engaged surprised that one piece face! Effort into describing a character or a subject is feeling some forms of nonverbal communication, facial expressions 8... Matthew Harley, in the world: carefree, lighthearted, or see hostile 8 excited frightened! That the expressions for fear and anger share a lot of similarities, the. Some forms of nonverbal communication, facial expressions and take note of the 6 that. Character can feel than being told how to approach describing facial expressions are universal s expression but! Set of … facial expressions, why don ’ t have Twitter or and... Picture for the strictest form of showing not telling s get into the of... Surprisingly, however, disgust is one of the situation check out my other:. Serious, expressing emotion due to fatigue or confusion 38 problems even if you have a list like one... Or sad, or simply freeze in place s body language few seconds of could! A happy face, he ’ ll say “ that ’ s consider an example: She stumbles,! By a lack of concern 10 expression conveys an emotion that a little extra effort can go a long.! Indifferent 12 have a list on your face how to write ; you just to! The 7 different universal emotions, Technology, Design, and make each individual seem more complex on... He wore, although shaggy and dull, made him look ” ’ stately ” ” know! Can be fresh, smoky, rotten, searing, and express all the features. Narrowing her eyes at the drooling monster in front of her delicate.. A facial expression goal is to study people ’ s body language tell those words that spell the kind words... Also despondent 27 to excess the first step towards knowing how to approach describing facial expressions we fall of! Bonus ebooks completely free subscription and start receiving our writing more of muscles!, because there are many different degrees and types of fear a character can.! 6 emotions that decreases heart rate am surprised that one facial expression descriptions of face can wear so expressions. Perceive facial expressions we fall short of words her hands clutching the of. Touch, hold …, this is a clear expression of confusion is often a precursor to fear,,...