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Just as no two fingerprints are alike, no two people act alike. People smile, laugh, and cry, but in each situation, the expressions and sounds are different. We can laugh out of joy or pain. Our smiles may be courteous or degrading. Crying is an outburst of emotion, which has an unlimited number of causes.
  Lazy writing stops with the simple expressions such as, He smiled. Is that all? What kind of smile? She cried, A tear ran down her cheek, or worse yet, referring to a flood of tears tends to be overworked, so cliché that readers don’t sense the emotions we want. Maybe your first thought is to write, His heart pounded, or It took his breath away.
  Think again. Push yourself to find details that better express emotions. One way to do that is to collect examples of what bestselling authors have used for smiles, laughs, and tears.


The Key to Midnight by Dean Koontz
● Suddenly his smile seemed to be false, maintained only with considerable effort.
● Alex grinned winningly.
● She smiled thinly. It was her first smile since they had sat down, and it looked unnatural.
● When the car stopped rocking, he glanced at Alex in the rearview mirror, grinned disarmingly, and apologized: “Gomen-nasai, jokyaku-san.”
● He opened his mouth to argue but grinned instead.
● Joanna smiled ruefully. (“Sympathetically” might be better.)
● Joanna found a smile. “You are a good friend, Mariko-san.”
● He was in his early fifties, an inch shorter than Joanna, with slightly crinkled, papery skin and brown eyes as warm as his quick smile.
● That wasn’t everything he had intended to tell her, and it was surely not as much as she wanted to hear, but her smile seemed to say that she could not possibly have been happier.

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
● A faint smile turned the corners of her mouth up. She winked. Not a full wink, but the movement in her right eyelid was unmistakable. Or was it?
● A smile softened her face, and looking into her soft blue eyes, he suddenly wanted to tell her everything.
● She said it all with a warm smile.
● And then he pushed the feeling aside, cleared his mind, and offered her a polite grin.
● His face was red, grinning like a schoolboy’s, and his eyes were bright like the sun.


The Key to Midnight by Dean Koontz
● Joanna laughed and tossed her head to get a long wave of hair out of her face.
● Peterson laughed and chortled and cackled, spraying spittle and expelling clouds of butter-rum fumes, until he had to gasp for breath.
● “Wouldn’t it?” Peterson laughed at his own expense and hung up.

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
● He laughed to cover his blush.
● He chuckled and shook his head.
● He just shook his head, still shaking with laughter.
● She couldn’t help but chuckle with him.
● Brad wasn’t laughing due to humor. He was actually delighted by her. And his face was red because he felt embarrassed by just how much she delighted him.


The Key to Midnight by Dean Koontz
● Bright tears glistened in the corners of her eyes.
● Her eyes brimmed with tears.
● Tears of pain streamed down his face.
● “Sorry,” he said, ashamed of the pent-up tears that blurred his vision and that he was barely able to hold back.
● She opened her eyes, staring at the ceiling. Tears shimmered.
● Her cheeks were wet with tears again, but she was not sobbing.

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
● Her face wrinkled and a tear sprang from her right eye. A single sob broke from her mouth, and she wiped the wetness from her cheek.
● Her tears slipped from her eyes and ran down her cheeks.
● Tears had long ago dried on his dirty cheeks, but now his eyes flooded with them again.


The Key to Midnight by Dean Koontz
● Alex’s heartbeat quickened.
● She was shaking violently with fear. Her heart was knocking in her breast. She couldn’t get her breath; each inhalation was shaken out of her before she could draw it all the way into her lungs.
● The only sounds were his own breathing and the fears thudding of his heart.
● Chelgrin could hear his own pounding heartbeat.
● He was speechless. He merely nodded. His heart pounded, and with each heartbeat, he became more awake to life.
● Joanna’s heart was already slamming. The sight of the syringe made throb painfully harder than before.