The way characters move can also tell us about the world they live in. There may be certain expectations of the way they should move and act depending on the opinions of the world around them. In the UK there’s ‘The Royal Wave’ a particular sort of wave used by The Royal Family as they’re driven passed crowds, the theory goes it’s easier to keep doing The Royal Wave then it would be to just wave a hand. Then we get to the more complex issues such as an expectation of how men and women are supposed to behave, obviously we don’t have to divide our world down the same lines but we may have an equivalent. Such divides may appear arbitrary but they’re always used to keep on group below another.

We can also have a style of movement assigned to a particular group that distinguishes them from others. The Royal Wave is an example of this, we can also include military body language. Military groups are often associated with a more rigid body language that comes from training and regimentation, the theory goes you can tell if someone has been in the military by the way they stand. This is something to be considered in our own world building, it doesn’t necessarily have to apply to the military but we can have groups who move differently and if they do, why do they? Are they trained to or are they rejecting the society’s expectation of their behaviour?

We can also use movement to show how the characters’ ideas about the society or the way they wish to be perceived. Are they from a military background or do they try to emulate it because they think it gives them more authority? Do they emulate The Royal Wave because they want to be perceived as being regal, do they aspire to be, or do they perceive themselves as being very important?

Do we need to explain this behaviour? Not always, readers can pick up on cues and recognise characters emulating the same behaviour, and giving certain things names like The Royal Wave can be self-explanatory. Some may need a brief hint, unless it’s important to the story then it might need more explanation. For example, in a novel set in Victorian Britain we might mention that a woman can’t raise her skirt too high because of what people will think if she shows too much ankle. Or why it’s significant if she does show her ankles.

It’s important to remember that small details can add extra layers to a world.

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Published by Jesse

I'm a writer and academic specialising in fantasy fiction and creative writing theory. I'm allergic to pretentiously talking about fiction and aim to be unashamedly ‘commercial’. Surely all fiction is commercial anyway, or what’s the point in publishing it?

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