On a recent trip to Canada, I noticed a woman painting along the shore of the lake. She had her easel set up and was capturing the snow-capped mountains rising up out of the water. I noticed how she would look at the scene in front of her as if memorizing a detail, then bow her head to canvas and work on a section for several minutes before raising her head to memorize another detail of the setting.
This reminded me of advice I once read from author and poet Priscilla Long in The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life. To learn how to write body language in your scenes, she suggests the following exercise: Go to a public place like a coffee shop and observe two people as they talk to each other. Notice their body language. Write in your notebook all the body language you see. Read more