Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lip Reading

Jennifer reads your lips...

Being hard of hearing, I do a lot of lip reading. I never really noticed how much, though, until I started writing. Suddenly, I had to describe the physical characteristics of my characters.

Okay, I can describe their hair—brown, blond or red; curly, wavy or straight; thick or thinning; bangs or spikes; texture. No problem.

I can describe their bodies—fat, thin or somewhere in between; muscular or soft; tall or short and if short, how short; broad-shouldered, long-legged, well-endowed or flat-chested.

But eyes? Brown, blue or grey. And then what? I have no idea. I can’t repeat the same color continuously, but I have no idea how to describe someone’s eyes.

Why?

Because I spend most of my time staring at their lips to read them. I can describe mouths very well. Thin-lips or full; the shapes they make when they speak; whether they’re bitten or chewed when the character is nervous.

But for the eyes I have to look at pictures or movie clips and study how they change with emotion. I can’t picture it in my head so I need a real-life sample on which to base my descriptions.


I can’t always answer the question, “Who would you pick to play your characters in a movie,” because my characters are not always based on real people. But the eyes? I can tell you every time who’s eyes they are.

12 comments:

  1. Interesting post, Jen, especially as I have a hearing problem too (and wear hearing aids). I also tend to read lips, but I read eyes too. Not sure how I do it at the same time, but there are many times when the eyes are saying far more than the mouth!

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    1. Yeah, I'm still learning to do both (although the hearing aid makes it easier)--habit, though...

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  2. I don't pay attention enough to facial expressions. I more listen for inflections in voices, and meanings behind words.
    Great post!

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    1. Ana, if you could watch me while I'm writing, you'd see me screwing up my face in all kinds of expressions, to work out whether a character would give a wry smile, wince, narrow eyes, raise eyebrows etc etc etc. That's because I think facial expression has to reflect the words and the tone of voice - and vice versa.

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    2. I do that too, Ana, but those are hard to convey when writing.

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  3. And Paula, I'd pay to see that. ;)

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    1. Might try a selfie one day - but on second thoughts, maybe not :-)

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    2. Yep...we're definitely going to need to see that selfie! LOL

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  4. I am definitely a people-watching, but I do try to do it without getting caught staring (Which is just embarrassing!), so eyes are probably one of the things I observe the least.

    Although my characters are made up, I usually do give my cover artist a 'famous person' reference for my covers. I find my characters come out much more accurate in how I'm picturing them when I do.

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    1. That's interesting, Debra. I guess everyone needs a model to base things off of.

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