I came across an article by Marianne Schaefer Trench, a documentary filmmaker, in the Daily Beast titled “The Raised Eyebrow Is the Lazy Writer’s Favorite Cliché.”
You rarely see a raised eyebrow in real life, but in fiction they are rising, knitting, and furrowing everywhere, or at least if you’re looking at truly crappy novels and stories.
In novels, eyebrows do all kinds of things. Most commonly they “rise.” Sometimes a single eyebrow rises all by itself, but often both eyebrows rise in unison. Slightly more creative writers make the eyebrows “knit” or “furrow” or “hike” or “tighten” or “pinch” or “wiggle”—or any other verb that might describe a mobile eyebrow (or two).
To support her thesis, she reports observing her friends and co-workers and says that nobody raises an eyebrows in real life.
Sounds to me like she has a lot of deadpan friends.
Then she watched faces in movies and found, again, no raised eyebrows.
But I don’t think that whether or not people in life or actors raise their eyebrows is germane. She points out that people move their faces in all sorts of ways to express emotion. So true. And, since we’re observing those faces, we can get the communication of emotion, of what’s going on in that person.
But in fiction we’re not seeing a face do anything. But we do know what raising eyebrows means, and including a brow raise enables us to both see a face in action but to also understand something of what the character is thinking/feeling.
So I’m going to lower my eyebrows into a glower and disagree with this writer’s notion.
What do you think?
For what it’s worth.
© 2017 Ray Rhamey
My books. You can read sample chapters and learn more about the books here.
Writing Craft Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling
Fantasy (satire) The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles
Mystery (coming of age) The Summer Boy
Science Fiction Hiding Magic
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