Oddly enough, one of the most useful skills I’ve acquired from becoming a romance writer is an improved ability to read people’s facial expressions and body language.
I’m not suggesting I’ll be taking up a second career as an FBI profiler, but prior to learning to write romance, I had zero skills in that area. Back when I worked in IT, I would often go to meetings. Afterwards my co-workers would dissect the subtle interactions between the power players who ran our world.
“Did you see the look A gave B?” one would ask.
“I did!” another would chortle. “Did you see the expression on C’s face? She totally did not want to be assigned to work with D.”
I saw none of this.
As I’ve struggled to learn how to show emotion rather than telling it, though, I’ve learned a few things. Emotions Revealed by Paul Eckman was a godsend. It describes, with photographs, not only major emotions (fear, surprise, anger, etc.) look but also the subtle micro-expressions that accompany less strongly felt emotions.
How good are you at deciphering what people are feeling simply by looking at them?
Care to put your money where your (smiling) mouth is?
Here’s a little test you can take. If you’d like, feel free to leave your score in the comments.