1. Christine Cholette
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    Christine Cholette Member

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    Facial Expression Descriptors

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Christine Cholette, Nov 26, 2013.

    I am struggling with finding the proper way to describe someone who appears to be hiding a secret. You know the sly look I am referring to? You know someone is hiding something because the look gives it away.

    I know there is a perfect word out there to describe that look but it is lost to me right now. :confused:

    Thanks for your input!
    Christine
     
  2. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    It might not be the word you were looking for, but the first to pop into my head was 'shifty.'
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Wouldn't it depend on the secret? Are they busting to tell?
    If your not-so-best-friend has just seen your boyfriend kissing another girl her expression could be have-I-got-news-for-you. Otherwise known as smug.

    Going with Obsidian's shifty - there's also evasive, furtive, covert.

    Or mock-nonchalant.
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Unspoken truths trembled her resistant lips....
    Her smile was a traitor....
    Things I did not want to hear danced in her eyes...
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    He said it was true but a flicker of his eyes betrayed his words.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    doesn't make good sense to me, for you to want to distill it down to a single, all-encompassing word...

    as for 'shifty,' it wouldn't work on its own... the usual term is 'shifty-eyed'...
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  7. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    Well, it doesn't just have to be the eyes. It can be in the mouth as well as the voice, so this is what i came up with:

    (Char wants to tell the truth)

    Batos couldn't help but notice that Timmeus kept glancing to one side as he spoke, as if he was nervous. The prince took a sideways glance to see if anyone was there, but there was nothing but an old tapestry hidden in shadow.

    "Timmeus, is something wrong?"

    (Char is lying)

    The scout jumped when Batos spoke, as if he hadn't even realized who it was that he had been talking to. "Ah-uh, n-no Sire. It's just that..." The boy's face flamed and he looked down at his toes abashedly. Then his head jerked back up and he gave the prince a too-big grin. "Nah -it was silly anyways. Don't worry about it."

    * * *

    Then again, these kinds of scenes depend on the character in and of themselves -whether they are a good liar or not, as well as who they are talking to and whether the listener is observant enough to detect things like that. It's a bit tricky unless you give us more details.

    also, as for the above scene, Timmeus had accidentally let a certain someone escape Batos's rooms and now he can't find her. :D he's trying to distract Batos long enough for the others to catch her.
     
  8. Christine Cholette
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    Christine Cholette Member

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    Hello everyone, thanks for the great input. Basically my character has just been told that there will be an exciting "unexpected" adventure for him but the person who told him this isn't giving away the whole story. Part of the adventure has to do with my character personally but he is not aware of that yet. This conversation is where he sees a "suspicious" flicker (to use 'GingerCoffee's term) in the eyes of the speaker that leads my character to believe he is missing something crucial. I hope that helps describe the situation more accurately. I believe from everyone's input I can word that section properly now. Thanks!

    For this situation, I don't believe the word "shifty" would work because it hints that the character is harboring negative or hurtful secrets and that is not the case here. More like an exciting secret that you can't for the other purpose to realize themselves.
     
  9. Christine Cholette
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    Christine Cholette Member

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  10. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me, it would largely depend on the nature of the secret. A betraying spouse would have a distinctly different look than one hiding the keys for a new Lamborghini just purchased as a birthday present.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You aren't producing a movie. Your focus should be on the best way to convey the meat of the scene, not on how to create the perfect visual in the mind's eye. Visuals aren't always the answer, and in this case, you're struggling to vividly represent an image that will subtly convey the emotional state of the character.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    A flicker in an eye or a twitch of a lip, anything that briefly comes and goes would work in a novel.

    A lot of people list a number of body cues claiming this or that reveals dishonesty. Most of that has been shown to be bunk. But there is a repeatable, teachable skill that some people are good at which picks up on lies. Our facial expressions are reflexive. When you see an incongruent expression, briefly, it can reveal a lie is being told. It's not fool proof. Good actors don't do it and some nervous people might be mistaken for lying, but in many cases that flicker of reflexive facial expression really does give away a lie.
     
  13. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just before I lie, I hesitate for three seconds and quickly shift my eyes. After I lie, I widen my eyes and lean forward, examining the person's face to see if they believe me or not. I'm not good at lying...

    Anyway, does it have to be solely facial? When one is not telling the truth, they might try to comfort themselves by touching their shoulder, scratching their hair or fidgeting in some other way.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    could be done as simply/effectively as:

    He sensed [the person] was holding something back, leaving out something important.

    there's no reason why you have to resort to micromanaging, or what i call 'bibo' writing [as in, 'breathe-in/breathe-out'] and bore the reader to death with extraneous trivial detail...
     

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