spyingYep! I made that word up. Writers can do that!

Authorveillance: noun: Observing human interaction and/or individuals for the express purpose of using their mannerisms, speech patterns, physique, appearance, personality, problems, or quirks in your next novel.

It’s not creepy…it’s research! And it’s something a writer can do when forced to interact with people or while waiting in the line at the local over-priced coffee shop.

The more you pay attention to the particularities of individuals, the easier it will be to include and write many believable character descriptions.

Here’s a few details worth observing:
Physical mannerisms
  • nail biting: situational anxiety or  nervous by nature?
  • hair twirling:  flirtatious, coy, superficial, anxious?
  • self-touching: um…where?  scratching, picking, rubbing,  fondling
  • fidgeting: toe tapping, restless limbs, shifting from foot to foot
  • eye contact: too much vs too little
  • blinking: eye tics, squinting
  • body posture/ bearing/demeanor: slouched, military, bored, furtive, shy, arrogant. Body language books are great for explaining the ways posture reveal temperament or personality
  • gait: shuffle, spring, lurch, long strides, quick steps, pained, plodding, rolls off balls of feet, cat walk style
  • speed: fast or slow; breathless or modulated; loud or soft
  • sound: gruff, velvety, gravely, breathy, hoarse,
  • slurred: drunk, stoned,medicated
  • stutter: nervous, speech impediment
  • diction: articulate, pompous, low register/uneducated
  •  accent: slight pronounced, foreign, regional dialect or words, age-specific words
  • patterns: interrupts, all about “me, me me” (selfish) ; all about “you” (evasive)
  • cadence: ascending or descending lilt
  • skin textures: pitted, smooth, taut, fleshy, puffy, stretched, saggy, thin, flawless, wrinkled—smoker’s lines, worry lines, laugh lines
  • skin tones: from translucent to ebony,
  • scars: location,on body, severity, recent or from long ago. Partially obscured as if hidden or uncovered?
  • body parts: perky, slack, muscular, lean, sinewy, fleshy, thick, robust, wasted. The older the woman the lower the boobs. The older the man the bigger the earlobes.
  • poor quality, classy, wealthy, flashy, understated, sumptuous
  • fitted vs loose
  • tailored, casual, slovenly
  • neat, messy, wrinkled

Body Odor: fresh, overly-perfumed, homey (in House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, mama’s hair is described as smelling like bread)

Authorveillance: You’re not staring! You’re not being a creeper!  This is bonafide author research!

Warning: Make certain your characters do not resemble friends or family because that never works out well.

Related Links:  Rock Your WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon for novels.

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