My husband hurt my feelings the other day. Apparently, he knew it--or read it in my eyes--because he shoulder-nudged me. The ol' "I didn't mean it" shoulder-nudge. When that didn't work, he did what he could to make me laugh. His attempts are always hard to resist. One of the reasons I love him is because he makes me laugh, so I couldn't help but to giggle.
But I didn't let him off the hook.
There was no point discussing it. We both knew the name of the elephant in the room. We've been married so long that the words "I'm sorry" are reserved for the really big stuff, so we've both mastered the art of non-verbal apologizing. And we both recognize the other's code for "forgive me."
He became agreeable, helpful, attentive. All nice, all worth milking for however long I felt he should feel guilty. Of course, he won't play penitent husband for long, so he brought out the big guns. As we bowed our heads over our meal, he said a special prayer for me to remain healthy and have a good day.
Of course I granted an immediate reprieve. What else could I do?
Non-verbal cues come in handy in life and in writing. Using dialogue to show an all-out war between a couple can be fun, but using finesse and nuance can be challenging and more effective. What isn't said can blare from a page.
Are you illustrating strong emotions? Look for the less obvious. A passive-aggressive who's ticked off may add too much salt to a stew before setting it before the object of her ire. A woman who simply "doesn't want to talk about it" will go to extremes to change the subject. A man who's on the verge of tears at seeing his daughter in her wedding gown may crack a joke.
You don't have to look farther than your own idiosyncrasies and those of the people you're most familiar with to find examples. Capture these for the page to add depth to the emotions you want to portray.
Linda Apple is the author of Writing From Your Soul, Writing Life ~ Your Stories Matter, Connect ~ A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, POW; Promises Kept and Women Of Washington Avenue, her debut novel and the first book in her Moonlight Mississippi series. Her personal experience stories have been published in 16 of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotions have been published in numerous devotion magazines and books. She lives in Fayetteville Arkansas with her husband, Neal, their five children, five children-in-love, and ten grandchildren.
Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction from west Texas. Her debut novel, Washout Express, released June 2013 from Harbourlight Books. Her short stories, poems, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Mature Living, Splickety Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, and Christiandevotions.us, She is a two time Grand Prize Winner at the East Texas Christian Writers Conference, and a Faithwriters.com Best of the Best award winner. She and her pastor husband have six grown children and nine grandchildren.
Deborah Dee Harper writes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by way of Michigan, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alaska (again). Deb is a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild classes and writes Christian humorous and inspirational books for both children and adults. Her children’s adventure series, Laramie on the Lam, available in both e-book and print, is being re-published as six individual print books. Her Road’s End series (Misstep, Faux Pas, and Misjudge) for adults is also contracted and should be published soon. She is currently nearing completion on the first book of another series. She is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.
Lisa Lickel is an award-winning multi-published inspirational novelist, blogger, reviewer, and writing mentor. A freelance editor, Lisa loves all things historical. Her work has appeared in Writer's Digest and Christian Fiction Online.
Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador, where she could rival Captain Jean Luc Picard in consumption of Earl Grey tea. She is the author of Emergence, Retaliation, and Capitulation, novellas and novels in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.
Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His poetry has appeared in leading journals and is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond.His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File, and a historical romance, Lightning on a Quiet Night. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.
Editor/Author Linda Yezak lives with her husband in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a speaker/lecturer for various writers' groups and conferences. Her fiction books include Give the Lady a Ride, The Simulacrum, and The Cat Lady's Secret. Her nonfiction books include Writing in Obedience, co-written with Hartline Literary agent Terry Burns.
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