Tell me wry

They say ‘show, don’t tell’. Writing Lilly was angry only tells the reader what’s happening, whereas Lilly slammed her fist against her thigh lets the reader ‘see’ the action.

I get that. Happy people smile and laugh, angry people frown and grit their teeth, worried people chew their bottom lip and sad people cry, but what do puzzled people do? What is the action or facial expression of someone faced with a momentary setback, a curious circumstance, a difficult question?

There’ s a face I make when I’m puzzled by something or feeling a bit baffled, perhaps rueful. My chin pushes up and my bottom lip presses against my top lip. My chin gets very wrinkled; the more the wrinkle, the more puzzled I am. It’s almost a cross between a pout and a grimace.

My problem is this. ‘Frown’ is one word that describes a very complicated facial expression, as does ‘grin’,  ‘smile’, ‘pout’, ‘grimace’, ‘scowl’, ‘glower’, ‘glare’ and ‘stare’. Where is the one eloquent word to describe the face I’m making right now, the ‘damn-me-but-I-don’t-know-how-to-show-this-emotion-without-telling-the-reader-my-character-is-confused’ face?

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8 Comments on “Tell me wry”

  1. peppergroyne Says:

    “Lilly’s eyebrow traced an upward path on a collision course with the wrinkles of consternation slowly bunching just below the edge of her severe librarian-bunned hairline.”

  2. TB Says:

    That’s easy. It’s either this :-S or this O.o


  3. Er, ok, thanks guys for your… help.


  4. bloowillbooks Says:

    Maybe you could add an adjective to the expression? Maybe they have a ‘bewildered grin’ or a ‘rueful smile’. Okay it’s still telling, but now it’s telling AND showing which is something my primary school teachers always loved!

    Otherwise maybe she could have a tasty fingernail snack, which is what I do when thinking hard about a confusing issue?

  5. peppergroyne Says:

    Is this where ‘furrowing’ and ‘beetling’ of brows comes into play?

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