Hi Ailsa There are 23k words preceding these. Sadly because this is short there is little context. I want to try to show a transition from cerebral activity to visceral activity with the physical description of a smile. Writing the smile has become a conceit, but I want to dislocate the reader, make them think about what a smile is. Its animal aspects. that’s why  I asked you if you had written a good smile. I might not be able to make this bit, or any of this work but I want to try.  The endnotes are my in-text notes from word. It is how the browser displays them. I do not want to use any metaphor in this!

“Alright.” Elsa sits up, and swings her legs off the bed. She looks back at Aki still lying quietly. Its starts with little creases around Aki’s mouth and then her white teeth become visible. Fine lines appear around her twinkling[HWH2] blue eyes and creases deepen in the corners of her mouth. Then the flesh of her cheeks puckers and bunch up as her grin [HWH3] deepens until her brown lips frame her fully exposed teeth[HWH4] . She tilts her head a little and shards of light reflect  brightly from her eyes. Elsa smiles too.

section break______________________________

 [HWH1]Third virtual person Roslyn Ignore for now. This a secondary dialogue I have to develop.

 [HWH2]Too close to a metaphor how else to say this? sparkling and twinkling are too clichéd

 [HWH3] grin I don’t want to use this word.

 [HWH4]Think about how a smile evolves


5 responses to “Smile

  1. Wow. You choose a tricky task, Harry, don’t you?
    Is the smile a central motif of the story? Does it come at a pivotal point in it?
    No, I’ve never tried to write a particular smile in that way. It’s like going in for an extreme slow-mo close-up isn’t it? Intriguing. I often marvel that a smile is so close to the bared teeth of the animal in defence mode. I wonder how much they serve to disarm another…
    Thanks. great stuff, and fascinating exercise.


    • A smile is the central motif of life. The story is about life and death and choice & other things too of course but these two people are new to each other and I am trying to show how emotions are visceral experiences and using Elsa and Aki as vehicles. I want to show how love affects the heart.

      Is it pivotal? Each scene is pivotal or why is it there is my response. If i can do it convincingly it will be a stand out moment. If not I will have to loose it and do something else.

      I discussed this with one of my professors yesterday, over coffee, in a coffee shop. Yeah, much better than e-mail and Learning Management System. He was intrigued too and had never thought about it in a textual way. He writes, and acts but is a film maker and academic mainly. Actors do his smiling for him. I heard him talking Swahili on Skype, beautiful !!!!!

      Writing a smile is a directing issue perhaps, how do you tell somebody how to smile. You can tell an actor how to walk or how to dance but how to smile? Might go something like “Get those lips more soft, softer now don’t go too far. Now I want to see your teeth, but not your gums, no gums. And your cheeks, you look like you have been shot, soften up a bit. And your eyes, can we wet them a bit, get a bit more reflection happening. And the laugh lines around your eyes, get them happening, oh no that is too much you look like you a have a bullet in your spine again.”

      Harvesting garlic today. Adios amigo


  2. All rings true for me…
    Save for this, perhaps – “Is it pivotal? Each scene is pivotal or why is it there is my response.”
    I’d probably say that all scenes are important, but some are pivotal – that is, they are crucial to an understanding of the whole, or to its progression. I can think of plenty of scenes or incidents in books that are there to enhance enjoyment or broader context or understanding, but which are not crucial to the forward progression of the narrative, for instance.
    Go you!
    And if someone directed me like that as an actor, I’d probably be outraged – maybe that is why I’m not acting anymore! As a director, the great pleasure for me is the collaboration with actors – seeing the wonders that they bring, which are always infinitely more exciting than what I’d imagined. But I do get that you were only offering me an example!


  3. Are you furious? Body cues tell us more than faces

    By Amy Reichelt, University of New South Wales

    As social creatures, non-verbal communication through facial expression is important in portraying emotions – and because of this, it’s interpreted rapidly and accurately.

    Regardless of culture, defined facial expressions exist. It’s long been thought anger, surprise, contempt, disgust, happiness and sadness are recognised universally by humans, although even this has been questioned more recently.

    These expressions are often involuntary and their universality allows cross-cultural interpretation. Certain expressions can also be interpreted in a cross-species manner: the expression of an enraged dog prevents us from unwittingly approaching a potential danger whereas a contented dog invites our approach.

    But when the emotional expression is intense – is it really that easy to interpret? A study released today in Science suggests we may actually struggle to discriminate extreme emotions.

    Pain and pleasure

    For the Science paper, led by Hillel Aviezer of Princeton University, studies were undertaken to investigate whether dimensionally polarised emotions – extreme fear versus immense joyfulness – are really interpreted and encoded within the brain in such a distinct manner.

    Happy, but would you know it without the fist-pump? Mast Irham/EPA

    Intense emotions are thought to activate maximally distinct facial muscles to aid visual discrimination between positive and negative emotional states. But the processing of distinct emotions at a neurobiological level suggests that, despite motoric (relating to muscular movement) distinctiveness, intense emotions share similar neuroanatomy and neurochemistry.

    Functional imaging studies in humans have demonstrated that brain regions such as the amygdala, nucleus accumbens, insular and orbitofrontal cortices show increased activation during both positive and negative emotions.

    The neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with reward and motivation, is also involved in encoding signals associated with punishment.

    Similarly, the opioid system, which the highly addictive drugs morphine and heroin activate, is also involved in stress and pain sensitisation.

    Blurring the lines

    With intense positive and negative emotions intrinsically linked by overlapping brain systems, it may be that these emotions are more difficult to discriminate than originally proposed.

    For the Science study, Aviezer and colleagues demonstrated that participants struggled to determine whether intense emotions were positive or negative when shown facial expressions alone. The images used were of the immediate reactions of professional tennis players when winning or losing high-stakes points.

    Agony … no, ecstasy. Both images: Ahmad Yushi/EPA

    It was found that when facial expressions were combined with the appropriate body cues, participants were easily able to discriminate facial responses to winning or losing. The participants were also able to correctly identify emotions by body cues alone.

    This indicates the crucial importance of postural cues in the identification of strong emotions. While participants were unable to determine the intensity of the emotion from body cues alone, participant ratings of isolated facial expressions accurately conveyed emotional intensity.

    Impressions of expressions

    A further experiment combined the facial and body cues in a hybrid manner: winning faces combined with losing bodies, and losing faces with winning bodies.

    Participants were instructed to simulate the facial expression of the tennis player with their own faces, and the participant’s facial expressions were then photographed. Another group of participants viewed those images and rated the expressions on a scale of 0-9 on the basis of positive valence, a psychological rating of positive emotional expression.

    It was found body cues that indicated winning, regardless of facial expression, were rated more positively. Conversely, body cues indicating losing, again regardless of facial expression, were rated less positively.

    If you’re happy and you know it pump your hands. Left image: Barbara Walton/EPA. Right image: John G Mabanglo/EPA

    The difficulty in determining facial expressions of emotion was extended to other expressions. Isolated positive emotional expressions (pleasure, victory, intense joy) and negative expressions (grief, defeat, pain) were all rated negatively when combined with an image of a body in acute pain (a man getting his nipple pierced) and positively when combined with body depicting triumphant victory.

    Interpreting extreme emotions

    It appears from the findings of these experiments that the contextual cues portrayed by body positions are vital in identifying intense emotions.

    From an evolutionary viewpoint, body cues are more salient than facial expressions from a distance or in poor visual conditions.

    Body cues can be interpreted as a “silent alarm” acting as a predictor of dangerous situations or to indicate a fortuitous occurrence. Faces are rich in information close up, but from a distance body cues are more salient.

    The happiest/saddest man in the world. Jason Szenes/EPA

    The authors interpret these data to indicate that facial musculature is incapable of accurately portraying intense emotions. Much like the acoustic distortion of music playing at a high volume on speakers, signals become degraded and indistinguishable, conveying only intensity as opposed to a tangible emotion.

    On a similar note, the authors indicate that it’s very difficult to distinguish extreme vocal emotional expressions – screams of pleasure or pain. It may be that humans are simply encoding the intensity of an emotional response as that is what conveys the salience as opposed to the facial expression.

    The “noisy”, intense facial signal is accompanied by body cues to disambiguate the emotion, which is also typically followed by more interpretable expressions such as smiling following an extremely joyful experience.

    Amy Reichelt does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

    The Conversation

    This article was originally published at The Conversation.
    Read the original article.


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