April 1, 2009: Making Faces

Faces and their expressions are funny things. A woman just walked by on the street, her mouth downturned with a twist in one corner like the shadow of a sneer, and her eyes were narrowed. Her features were as narrow as her eyes, lending themselves to an impression I had was of discontent and scorn.

I wonder, is what I see an accurate reflection of her mood and attitude? Or is it an accident of genetics, giving her those particular features, and is she making that expression without knowing how it looks? Maybe the way the expression feels on the inside suggests something completely different. I wonder this because I’ve caught myself making facial expressions that didn’t accurately convey what I was feeling in that moment. The last time I had my driver’s license picture taken, there were problems with every camera the registry officer used. It amused me, because it was the kind of thing that happens in a farce, not in real life. The only thing you see in my picture is weariness, the expression of a woman who’s had a long trying day.

And then, because these days everything is about the writing, I wonder about my characters. What do they look like to the people in their world, and how has that influenced who they are? The way people treat us affects our relationships with the world; the way we look affects the way we get treated. So the way my characters appear makes a difference, once I haven’t always consciously considered.

Add this to the (always growing) list of things to think about.

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