Back in September, I published Emotional Beats: How to Easily Convert your Writing into Palpable Feelings. As promised, I will be posting the book on my blog. So, here is the next installment, featuring Part 2 of the book: Body Parts. This post deals with what comes…

Out Of The Mouth…

Emotional Beats | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Read for free with KU

We all know that “said” is considered the perfect dialogue tag. Still, there are times when someone wishes to convey a feeling through a well-placed verb. Or a beat:

  • He started babbling.
  • He started prattling off every detail about [object].
  • He clicked her tongue.
  • He made a tsk-ing noise with his mouth.
  • He smacked his lips.
  • He spat the words out through gritted teeth. There was frustration and disdain wrapped up in his words.
  • His words trailed off.
  • She cooed at him.
  • Silence enveloped us.
  • Beyond that, nothing out of his mouth would sound appropriate, so he left it there.
  • “I need more.” His voice broke low on the word.
  • Her voice spiked upward as she struggled.
  • His tone brooked no argument.
  • “It—” She broke off, goggling as vicious curses erupted from the rear of the house.
  • “Sure,” she piped up.
  • She choked out.
  • She croaked.
  • His voice was redolent with good breeding: deep, measured, forceful, and with perfect enunciation. It rang out chillingly over her.
  • I stretched out the last word for emphasis.
  • He let his voice roll over her. It was pleasingly deep-toned.
  • …he said, his breath tickling her ear.
  • …she said with a windy sigh.
  • …she asked, her voice a bare whisper in the night.
  • …he said, his voice sweet and smooth like syrup.
  • …she said in carefully spaced words.
  • …the men said in stereo.


Another thing that comes out of a mouth is, of course, breath. Here are some nice breath-related beats:

  • He let out a breath he hadn’t even realized he was holding.
  • With some loud, straining breaths, he [lifted heavy object].
  • He waited until [action] before exhaling a deep and relieved breath.
  • …drawing in a frustrated breath…
  • His breath came out in small puffs of cold air.
  • She exhaled.
  • He blew out his cheeks.
  • She huffed.
  • She snorted.
  • His tongue felt fuzzy. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d brushed his teeth.
  • He caught a whiff of mint.
  • He had tobacco-stained teeth that hadn’t seen a toothbrush up close in years, and the breath to prove it.
  • His bad breath had nothing on his body odor.
  • Her breath escaped soft and moist; a sinless sound; a thing almost pure.

Next week: Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes. View all posts on the subject, or buy the book on Amazon – free on KU!

[tweetthis]Emotional Beats: Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes[/tweetthis]