Monday, April 11, 2011

The Importance of Facial Expressions--by Elaine AM Smith

This post is brought to you by the Letter F and the A to Z Challenge.
Thank you Elaine for sharing this great post with my followers as well as yours.

Facial expressions are outward manifestations of internal conflicts.

The fleeting alterations in visual, nonverbal communication, implies the stages from reaction and realization through to acceptance and finally to action.

In the facial expressions, the writer can show:

a)Character traits
b)Thought processes
c)Physical appearances – muscles, lines, moles
d)The character’s reactions to others’ changing perceptions

There have been many studies which show the near perfect universality in nonverbal communication: body language and facial signs.

Our command of language is highly evolved. The spoken and written word can convey the sense of place and time and the human condition. Neither medium is perfect, otherwise, in time of our greatest joy or sadness, we would not revert to being speechless.

Facial expressions are a window into the personality – the unguarded version, who would not be chosen as the PC spokesperson – they can be used to show the character’s temperament and attitudes.

In a photograph or painting an artist can capture an emotion. Specialists believed the face can reveal static characteristics (the study is sometimes called physiognomy.)

When I was eleven I found a book in a jumble sale: The Four Just Men by Edgar Wallace first published 1905. This paragraph, on page 6 (ie page2) came after an extensive description of Thery. I knew what he looked like but

“Signor Paolo Mantegazza, Director of the National Museum of Anthropology, Florence, has done Thery the honour of including him in his admirable work (see the chapter on ‘Intellectual Value of a Face’); hence I say that to all students of criminology and physiognomy, Thery must need no introduction.”

The word "physiognomy" drove me to distraction. I couldn’t sound it properly, my Dad had never heard of it and when I looked up “physiognomy” in the dictionary I couldn’t understand the definition.

The theory my English teacher helped me research threw my world out of orbit: it was the idea that you can judge a book by its cover.

I remain fascinated by all things psychological.

Facial expressions? Long before Tim Roth brought micro-expressions to the front of people’s consciousness ;) I made sure I judged people by what they did.

fair, fallible, fanatical, fascinated, fawning, fearful, fearless, fed up, fervent, fickle, fiery, fixated, flirtatious, flustered, foolish, forlorn, free, fretful, friendly, frightened, frustrated, fulfilled, fuming, furious

Seen any fantastic facial expression lately?
I'm going with Charlie Sheen.
all photos from google images


  1. Great post. It is quite a challenge to translate what we see visually into words, but that's the holy grail in fiction, isn't it? Show, not tell!

  2. Nice post! Whoo, poor Charlie. These are great, great examples.


Comments are off now that there is no new content going up on this site.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.