The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The World of Iniquus - Action Adventure Romance

Monday, June 17, 2013

TROUBLE! Body Language 101 for Writers Writing Aggression


English: A photo I took of a Fremont Police Of...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is your character a police officer? Or maybe your character is the criminal? Here are some of the key "tells" that trouble is brewing.

Remember in your writing that a mind and therefore a body does not go from 0-60 in 1.3 seconds. Unless the person is a victim of a sudden attack, the body will follow the mind's processing and ramp up in aggressive signaling.


In a traffic stop:

English: A traffic stop executed by an officer...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. The suspect keeps looking in the rearview mirror
2. The suspect moves their hands a lot. They should
    be still. This is a cautionary sign to which officers
    should pay close attention.
3. The suspect exits their vehicle - this can be
    interpreted in 2 ways
    a. This is part of a lier's body language
        LINK TO LYING 101 and the suspect is
        trying to distance themselves from some
    b. This is an act of aggression.
4. Either in or out of the vehicle: If the officer makes a
    request and there is a hesitation or non-compliance,
    the suspect has a plan in his mind.
5. Watch the hands. Does the suspect close off by
    pulling clothes tighter to the body or put their hands in pockets?
    a. This is a lier's body language that they are concealing something, either the truth or an actual object
    b. This is an act of nervousness
    c. The suspect is reaching for a weapon

Compliance is a key indicator.

Is the subject dancing around? Showing that s/he won't be following requests? Are they oppositional? Then look for these further signs that aggression will follow:

1 Defensive Barrier - arms folded across the chest
Fist by David Shankbone
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2 Avoiding eye contact and/or averting the face
3 Rocking motions
4 Clenching fists and/or teeth
5 Target Glance - such as at your weapon or the
   point where they mean to make contact
6 Facial wipe

Further Signs of aggression
1 Squinting
2 Lowering and spreading (opening the chest and
   arms) the body for stability. This happens from a
   standing or sitting position.
3 Redness in the face
4 Exaggerated gestures including shaking fingers,
Forward head butts is a sign of imminent physical aggression

Clapping the hands is one of the last indicators used prior to a fight. A clap of the hands is the MAJOR tell. Violence happens immediately afterwards.

Body Language tells and concealed carry of ANY weapon

1 Belt adjustment - especially if getting up.
2 Blading - if the suspect is carrying concealed and they know an officer is on one side they will shift their
  bodies slightly away from the officer hiding any bulges from the officer.
3 Billowing - where the suspect takes their clothing and pulls it away and loosens it to hide the weapon.
4 Thumb - prior to reaching for a concealed weapon the brain will process through the action. Getting the
   thumb to clear the weapon is key. The brain practices the event prior to execution, so the thumb will often
   twitch just prior to pulling the weapon.
5 "C" hands in to the front sides of the body at the edge of the shirt hem happens prior to pulling a weapon.
6 Holding on to the bottom of the shirt with one hand in preparation for pulling it out of the way to grab a


Video 1 (4:24) Concealed Carry Body Language
Video 2 (1:26) Avoiding Violence
Video 3 (2:10) Pre-attack Indicators - real crime with tutorial

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  1. Hi Fiona, found that interesting. I'm writing romantic thrillers so all tips help. I'll remember these. Thank you.

  2. Thank you kindly. Under the Applied Psych tab you might find some other helpful articles like the body language of attraction.


  3. Hi! Thanks for your tips! They are helpful! :)