WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM VENTRILOQUISTS?

The one I'm watching right now has a dummy with movable eyes and eyebrows. His lower jaw also moves, of course, but that's to show speech. The eyes move from side to side, and although they don't change in size, they look bigger when the eyebrows are moved upward. The eyebrows can go up to show surprise or can go down to form a V on the dummy's forehead for a frown. The head may also be moved in a bobbing movement just a little and often from side to side.

Look at how the ventriloquists have exaggerated certain features on their dummies for affect. Now the ventriloquist I'm watching has a blond-haired male dummy with a very large nose and a perpetual smile. It's also enlightening to watch the puppeteer's expressions.

Try watching TV without the sound on, and pay attention to facial expressions and other gestures of actors to show feelings. I know I'm frequently using the same gestures over and over in my writing--shrugging, nodding, smiling, frowning. I bet now I could list about three dozen. Well, I'm off to do that--TTYL.

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