MASTER LIST of Gestures and Body Language!

Master List of Gestures and Body Language #writing tips #dialogue tags #describing characters

Hey there! Lots of writers liked my list of facial expressions, so I thought I would do a companion post about gestures and body language. Describing these can help readers visualize a scene and get a feel for the characters, and again, they can set up lines of dialogue so you don’t have a string of he said, she said, he asked, she exclaimed, etc., running down the page.

You might want to consider which gestures or what body language is typical for each of your characters. For instance, one of my characters in the novel I just finished tends to hug herself when she’s nervous, while another has a habit of rubbing at his shoulder when he’s uncomfortable. They only do it a few times each throughout the book, but I think details like that make characters feel more solid.

For a great guide to what body language means, I recommend What Every BODY Is Saying, by former FBI counterintelligence offer Joe Navarro and body language expert Marvin Karlins.

Some of the things in my list are not exactly body language or gestures, but are useful for dialogue tags. As with the last list, I’ve included some different ways to say the same thing. There are some longer phrases and sentences, which you can obviously rewrite and adjust as you like, although you don’t have to. Nothing here is proprietary.

Let me know if you have additions to this list!
Body Language for Writers

he lowered his head
she hung her head
he ducked
she bowed her head
he covered his eyes with a hand
she pressed her hands to her cheeks

she raised her chin
he lifted his chin

her hands squeezed into fists
his hands tightened into fists
she clenched her fists
she balled her fists
he unclenched his fists
her arms remained at her sides

he shrugged
she gave a half shrug
he lifted his shoulder in a half shrug
she gave a dismissive wave of her hand

she raised a hand in greeting
he waved

she held up her hands
he lifted his hands
she held up her palms
he threw his hands in the air
she brushed her palms together
he rubbed his hands together
she made a steeple of her fingers
he spread his hands
she gesticulated
he waved his hands
she clapped her hands
he snapped his fingers
she held up a finger
he pointed
she gestured with a thumb
he jerked his thumb toward…
she extended her middle finger toward him
he gave her the finger
she gave him the thumbs up

she put her hands on her hips
she shoved her hands in her pockets
he jammed his hands in his front pockets
she rested a hand on her hip
she jutted out her hip

she folded her arms
he crossed his arms over his chest
she hugged herself
he wrapped his arms around himself
she rocked back and forth

she spread her arms wide
he held out his arms
she held out her hand
he extended a hand

he shook his head
she nodded
he bobbed his head
she tilted her head
he cocked his head
she inclined her head
he jerked her head in the direction of…
she turned her face away
he looked away

his breaths quickened
she panted
she was breathing hard
his chest rose and fell with rapid breaths
she took in a deep breath
he drew in a long breath
she took in a sharp breath
he gasped
she held her breath
he let out a harsh breath
she exhaled
he blew out his cheeks
she huffed
he sighed
she snorted

she laughed
he giggled
she guffawed
he chuckled
she gave a bitter laugh
he gave mirthless laugh
she tittered
he cackled

she rubbed her shoulder
he kneaded his shoulder
he rolled his shoulders
she tensed her shoulders
he massaged the back of his neck
she rubbed her temples
she rubbed her hands on her thighs

she ran her hand through her hair
he threaded a hand through his hair
he raked his fingers through his hair
he shoved his hair back away from his face
she toyed with a lock of hair
she played with her hair
she twirled her hair
she wrapped a curl around her finger
she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear
she undid her ponytail and shook out her hair
she tossed her hair
he buried his hands in his hair
he stroked his beard
he scratched his beard

she tugged at her earlobe
he bit a nail
she chewed on a cuticle
she picked at her nails
she inspected her fingernails
he plucked at the cuff of his shirt
she picked a piece of lint from her sleeve
he adjusted the lapels of his jacket
she fiddled with her earring / bracelet
he twisted the wedding ring on his finger
she played with her cell phone
he tugged at his shirt collar
he adjusted his tie
she smoothed down her skirt

she scratched her nose
he scratched his head
he rubbed his forehead
she rubbed her eyes
she pinched the bridge of her nose
he held his nose

she slapped her forehead
he smacked his forehead
he facepalmed
he slapped a hand over her mouth
she covered her mouth with her hand
she pressed her fingers to her lips
he held his finger up to his lips
he rubbed his chin

she pressed a hand to her throat
he clutched his chest
he leaned against the wall
she bounced on her toes
she jumped up and down
he tapped his foot
she stomped her foot

she folded her hands in her lap
she drummed her fingers on the table
he tapped his fingers on the table
he slammed his hand on the table
she pounded her fist on the table
she set her palms down flat on the table
he rested his hands on the table
she set her hands on the table, palms up
he leaned back in his chair
she hooked her feet around the chair legs
he gripped the arm of the chair
she put her hands behind her head
he put his feet on the desk
he fidgeted
she jiggled her foot
he swung his leg
she crossed her legs
he uncrossed his legs
she crossed her ankles in front of her
she stretched out her legs in front of her
he sprawled out
he put his feet on the desk

she cringed
he shuddered
she flinched
he shivered
she trembled
his body shook
she cowered
he shrank from…
she huddled in the corner

he pulled away
she jerked away
he turned away
she jolted upright
he stiffened
she straightened
he tensed
he jumped
she jumped to her feet
he stood up
she rose from her seat

she relaxed
he hunched
she slouched
her shoulders sagged
his shoulders slumped
she wilted
he went limp
he rolled his shoulders
she squared her shoulders

she clasped her hands behind her back
he puffed out his chest
she thrust out her chest

he propped his chin on his hand
she rested her chin on her palm
he yawned
she stretched

he turned around
she whirled around
he pivoted
she reeled

she stepped away
she drew nearer
he leaned closer
she inched forward
he loomed closer
he paced
she shifted from one foot to the other
he swayed on his feet
she dragged her feet

she pumped a fist
he thrust his fists in the air
she punched the air


A slightly expanded version of this list, plus a Master List for Describing Emotions, appears in my book Master Lists for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Character Traits, Names, and More. Click on the cover to check it out!

Master Lists for Writers by Bryn Donovan

Happy writing!

MASTER LIST of Facial Expressions for Writers!

Master List of Facial Expressions for Writers

Writers need good descriptions of facial expressions in their stories to help the readers picture the characters, to convey emotions, and to set up lines of dialogue without having to write “said” or any of its synonyms. However, it’s easy for us to rely on the same descriptions over and over again.

I created this list to address that challenge. The expressions are broken down by the part of the face. Note that some of them work for more than one emotion—a person might narrow their eyes out of vindictiveness or skepticism, for instance, and their face might turn red out of anger or out of embarrassment.

Some of them require a little more explanation on your part. You’ll have to say what she’s glaring at, or if his face is contorting in rage, or grief, or what. And not all of these will work for every character—it depends on what they look like and how they generally react to things.

Some of these aren’t exactly facial expressions, but useful for dialogue tags. In many cases I’ve given several ways to describe the same thing. While I have included some longer phrases, they are not proprietary and it’s fine to use them.

I’m open to suggestions, and I hope you find it helpful!

Master List of Facial Expression Descriptions #Bryn Donovan #dialogue tags #ways to describe


his eyes widened
her eyes went round
her eyelids drooped
his eyes narrowed
his eyes lit up
his eyes darted
he squinted
she blinked
her eyes twinkled
his eyes gleamed
her eyes sparkled
his eyes flashed
his eyes glinted
his eyes burned with…
her eyes blazed with…
her eyes sparked with…
her eyes flickered with…
_____ glowed in his eyes
the corners of his eyes crinkled
she rolled her eyes
he looked heavenward
she glanced up to the ceiling
she winked
tears filled her eyes
his eyes welled up
her eyes swam with tears
his eyes flooded with tears
her eyes were wet
his eyes glistened
tears shimmered in her eyes
tears shone in his eyes
her eyes were glossy
he was fighting back tears
tears ran down her cheeks
his eyes closed
she squeezed her eyes shut
he shut his eyes
his lashes fluttered
she batted her lashes
his brows knitted
her forehead creased
his forehead furrowed
her forehead puckered
a line appeared between her brows
his brows drew together
her brows snapped together
his eyebrows rose
she raised a brow
he lifted an eyebrow
his eyebrows waggled
she gave him a once-over
he sized her up
her eyes bored into him
she took in the sight of…
he glared
she peered
he gazed
she glanced
he stared
she scrutinized
he studied
she gaped
he observed
she surveyed
he gawked
he leered
his pupils (were) dilated
her pupils were huge
his pupils flared


her nose crinkled
his nose wrinkled
she sneered
his nostrils flared
she stuck her nose in the air
he sniffed
she sniffled


she smiled
he smirked
she grinned
he simpered
she beamed
her mouth curved into a smile
the corners of his mouth turned up
the corner of her mouth quirked up
a corner of his mouth lifted
his mouth twitched
he gave a half-smile
she gave a lopsided grin
his mouth twisted
he plastered a smile on his face
she forced a smile
he faked a smile
her smile faded
his smile slipped
he pursed his lips
she pouted
his mouth snapped shut
her mouth set in a hard line
he pressed his lips together
she bit her lip
he drew his lower lip between his teeth
she nibbled on her bottom lip
he chewed on his bottom lip
his jaw set
her jaw clenched
his jaw tightened
a muscle in her jaw twitched
he ground his jaw
he snarled/his lips drew back in a snarl
her mouth fell open
his jaw dropped
her jaw went slack
he gritted his teeth
she gnashed her teeth
her lower lip trembled
his lower lip quivered


she paled
he blanched
she went white
the color drained out of his face
his face reddened
her cheeks turned pink
his face flushed
she blushed
he turned red
she turned scarlet
he turned crimson
a flush crept up her face


he screwed up his face
she scrunched up her face
he grimaced
she winced
she gave him a dirty look
he frowned
she scowled
he glowered
her whole face lit up
she brightened
his face went blank
her face contorted
his face twisted
her expression closed up
his expression dulled
her expression hardened
she went poker-faced
a vein popped out in his neck
awe transformed his face
fear crossed her face
sadness clouded his features
terror overtook his face
recognition dawned on her face


A slightly expanded version of this list, plus a Master List for Describing Emotions, are my book Master Lists for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Character Traits, Names, and More. I think it’s a great tool for making “show don’t tell” easier and for inspiration during every part of the writing process. Check it out if you’re interested!

Master Lists for Writers by Bryn Donovan

Happy writing!


WIP Wednesday!

A little while back, I shared an excerpt from the paranormal romance I’m writing. I didn’t share the beginning, however, and later thought that maybe I should have! So here’s the opening to the book!

I am in final edits now, and I am super excited about it! It’s hot and funny and action-filled and angsty and and pretty much everything I was hoping it would be.


Continue reading “WIP Wednesday!”

In Defense of Literal Ass-Kicking Heroines

In Defense of Ass-Kicking Heroines #strong female characters

The first action movies I ever saw as a little girl were old James Bond movies. I would enjoy them, imagining what it would be like to have that kind of sang-froid, tools and skills, until the sexy lady showed up to be seduced.

Then, all of the sudden, I would feel this shitty sense of displacement. I couldn’t imagine myself in her role, but her presence made it clear that I wasn’t supposed to identify with the hero, either. It would ruin everything (see also: Kingsman.)

Seeing Sigourney Weaver in Aliens thrilled me. Finally, I didn’t have to make the mental stretch of identifying with a character of a different gender in order to fantasize about being competent and heroic and tough. I adore female characters who literally kick ass, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sydney Bristow in Alias, Katniss Everdeen, Lagertha in Vikings, and Black Widow (WHERE IS MY BLACK WIDOW MOVIE?)

Some people have criticized the ass-kicking heroine, claiming that these characters never seem to be well-rounded. Sophia McDougall wrote about it in her piece “I Hate Strong Female Characters,” and more recently Juliana Gray’s piece in McSweeney’s satirized this type of character (“As the Token Female Member of This Action Adventure Team, My Job Is to Kick.”)

Really, I agree with a lot of what they’re saying. Most of us prefer multi-dimensional characters to flat ones. But the criticism still bothers me, because I don’t think we hold male action heroes up to the same kind of scrutiny.

If Jason Bourne were female, would we complain that her lack of memory meant she had no real depth of character and no real agency? McDougall criticizes Agent Carter for shooting at Captain America, but Thor hurls Mjolnir at Captain America, which is just as dangerous, and she doesn’t mention that.

Thor himself would face a lot of scrutiny if he were a lady. He’s a warrior with much more of a sense of honor than of irony, he’s basically good and strong all the time (except for his bad manners with Steve), and he does provide a lot of shirtless eye candy.

Columnists tripped all over themselves to tell me all the reasons why Katniss Everdeen wasn’t good enough. I’m not linking to any of them because they are wrong.

“She has to be the strong character who takes shit from no one,” Sarah Dunn writes in her piece in Mic about strong female characters. But haven’t we had dozen of male action heroes like that? Why can’t I fantasize about taking shit from no one, too?

I suspect some of the criticism of ass-kicking heroines comes from a simple, deep-seated discomfort at seeing women fight. Now plenty of people just don’t like depictions of violence of any kind, and I respect that. But I like fighting in my stories, and I want to feel included in the action.

Both McDougall and Gray point out that we need more women characters, period, and I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think the woman warrior should be the only woman of consequence in any movie or TV show, even if she’s Mako Mori. On Vikings, for instance, Lagertha is a badass shieldmaiden (and also a mom, a leader, a farmer, and sometimes a lover), but Siggy is a quiet, scheming survivor.

Women can be strong and tough in a lot of different ways, and admirable or fascinating in even more ways. But I still don’t see female characters kick ass often enough, so pardon me if I don’t feel like criticizing and analyzing it six ways till Sunday every time I do.

The Pope Says I’m Selfish For Not Having Kids. Eh, Maybe.

The Pope Says I'm Selfish for Not Having Kids. Eh, Maybe.

The other day Pope Francis said that “The choice to not have children is selfish.” As far as I know, he himself does not have children, but in his mind, different rules apply to him. He was talking about me, a married lady who isn’t Catholic, because he feels like his opinion of my life matters.
I hear this thing about being selfish all the time, and essentially, I suppose it’s correct. I never wanted children, and so I didn’t have them because I figured that would make me happiest. I’ll go further and confess that I make most decisions based on what will make me happy: marrying a wonderful man, taking a great job, and so on. Most people I know make the decisions the same way.

Usually when we talk about selfishness, we refer to actions that harm someone else. But when someone chooses not to have children, who does that hurt? It’s nonsense to say that you are hurting kids by not having them, because the kids in question do not exist. Certainly the decision doesn’t harm an already overcrowded planet.

The Catholic Church has a long-term monetary interest in the procreation of its members, however. More babies means more future members and more money flowing up to the top. Of course women, who bear the pain of baby-having and more of the work of child-rearing, have no representation in the church’s hierarchy. They are denied priesthood and leadership positions based on their gender, now, in 2015. I think men keeping all the power to themselves seems pretty selfish, but Pope Francis has given no indication of caring about it.

The existence of child-free hetero couples, of course, also poses a problem for people and organizations like the Catholic Church who oppose same-sex marriage. I believe gay marriage is a sacrament, but those who say otherwise often claim, “But marriage is for procreation.” Then someone asks about marriages like mine, and it messes up the argument.

I think most people who choose to have kids do so for selfish reasons. They think they will be fun, and cute, and make their lives more complete. Parenting strikes me as very difficult, and I think it’s best left to those who at least believe they are getting something wonderful out of the deal.

Francis said, “Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.” This suggests that I’m not being selfish by not having kids, but rather missing out. This is actually very typical of people who tell me I should have children. Somehow, I’m simultaneously being self-centered and denying myself the best thing ever.

I think for lots of people, having kids is amazing, and I enjoy liking their cute photos on Instagram and hearing about their interests and accomplishments. I know lots of happy families, and I’m glad.

For me, not having kids is amazing. I don’t have to drive kids anywhere, or figure out dinner for them. I can go somewhere for the weekend with no advance planning, or stay in and write with few interruptions. My lifestyle hasn’t changed much from the time I was in my mid-twenties–heck, even my boobs haven’t changed that much. I think I don’t feel the passing of time or aging as keenly as people with children do.

But mostly, not having kids affects how I see the future. I feel like I have a lot of options and possibilities, and I don’t have to worry about college costs, which are disastrous in this country.

I apologize if any parents are reading this on a bad day (or year.) I’m putting it out there for the benefit of anyone who’s considering a child-free life. We all hear a lot more about how great having kids is–it’s not only the most popular choice, but also an effective message in advertising.  There’s a lot less PR about how great not having kids can be. I think it’s fantastic, which is why I can’t get too mad at the “selfish” accusation.

Lots of people are going to tell you what you should do with your life, including people who, like the Pope, do not know you at all, and will give you no help once you make that decision. In the end, you’ve got to listen to your heart and do what’s right for you. And if that’s selfish, so be it.

5 (or 6?) Myths About Romance Novels

Myths About Romance Novels

This post contains sexual language.

Many people harbor misconceptions about the romance genre. I used to myself, which is why I didn’t read romance for the longest time. As a writer, I often encounter the following wrongheaded ideas…

5 (or 6?) myths about romance novels

1. Romance novels use hilarious euphemisms for genitalia.

This hasn’t been true for decades. There may be exceptions I don’t know about, but if you start a romance written in this century hoping to read about manroots or throbbing members, chances are, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

I think “cock” may be the most common way to refer to a cock. Almost everybody likes cock. Romance novels will sometimes use words like “pussy,” but readers have strong and wildly varying opinions about terms for female genitalia. That’s why writers often take a roundabout approach: his hand reached between her legs, he pushed one finger inside her, etc.

The myth about romance novels employing funny euphemisms has lasted so long because of our culture’s discomfort with female sexual pleasure, which I will get to in just a minute!

2. They are anti-feminist.

This impression might also come from very old examples of the genre, or from the popularity of a few contemporary stories featuring aimless heroines. I think most romance authors, agents, and editors are feminists, and this comes through in the stories.

Heroines have their own lives and their own goals. Of course, there’s nothing wrong or anti-feminist with any person wanting to find a romantic partner. Most humans do. However, romance heroines are more likely to be pursuing goals like “track down my sister’s killer” or “start my own B&B” than “find a man.” Romance tends to happen when they weren’t expecting it, which is the way it usually works in real life, too.

Sex is consensual. In the old bodice rippers, this wasn’t always the case. I think a generation ago, a lot of women readers felt guilty about sexual desires, and force in a sex scene overcame that: it wasn’t the character’s fault she was having sex! She was still a good girl, just like the reader!

Some readers in the past probably also had a taste for BDSM, but without much knowledge about how it can play out in a healthy relationship. Anyway, heroines in today’s romances are enthusiastic partners in sex, and not infrequently the initiators of it.

The romance genre’s focus on female sexuality is inherently feminist. We see male lust and gratification in almost every TV show, movie, commercial, and music video, but female desire and pleasure make us uncomfortable. That’s one of the reasons people are so quick to deride the romance genre, and why the genre is so necessary.

Of course, stories with female protagonists in general are a much-needed anecdote to most TV shows and movies, even ones that garner critical acclaim, in which women play secondary roles or simply provide sexy backdrops for the story.

3. The heroine and hero are always impossibly good-looking supermodel types.

This is only half right. The heroes are usually gorgeous, although there are notable exceptions (Elizabeth Hoyt’s excellent debut novel, The Raven Prince, is one good example.)

The heroines are a mixed bag. Some are conventionally lovely. Some are chubby—the body type that in other media would make them not the romantic lead but the funny best friend. Other leading ladies just didn’t win the genetics lottery, in one way or another. It doesn’t matter. Once the hero has fallen for our heroine, she is, as far as he’s concerned, the most beautiful woman in the world.

I do have some misgivings about all the perfect-looking dudes. Unrealistic expectations about looks hurt men, too. At the same time, it’s hard to get too upset about it when the rest of our entertainment is skewed in the exact opposite direction.

As an author, I’m not given to writing long paragraphs about a guy’s chiseled abs or muscled chest. I’m not saying other writers shouldn’t do it—it’s just not me. My heroes are attractive, no question, but I focus more on their words and actions than their looks. To me, this is what makes a guy really hot, anyway.

4. Romance novels don’t have a real plot.

You’re thinking of literary novels. Just kidding, sort of.

I’ve heard people say that historical romance, for instance, is long descriptions of dresses and houses punctuated with sex scenes. Nope. Romance, like other genre fiction (mystery, thriller, scifi, fantasy), and like most TV shows and mainstream movies, tends to be driven by plot.

In romance novels, characters have goals, encounter significant impediments to achieving them (sometimes, the love interest is the impediment), and either meet them, or realize it was actually kind of a stupid goal. The reader comes to the book expecting a plot that twists and turns but ultimately makes sense, and most romance novels deliver.

If you’ve ever read a novel with beautiful sentences and insights that you struggled to finish nonetheless, it was probably because not enough stuff was actually happening. I suspect that many literary writers just aren’t that good at plotting. (Of course, some are great at it–Donna Tartt and Ann Patchett, for instance.) It’s not an emphasis in MFA programs, where “plot-driven novels” are held in some disdain, even though exciting stories are intrinsic to every culture, and even though plotting a long story is difficult and requires study and practice.

Alternately, I’ve read some romance and other genre fiction novels where the prose itself was…not very good, but I couldn’t put them down because the plot was so compelling.

5. Romance novels are read by lonely women who never married and have a lot of cats.

First of all, lots of single people are not lonely, and some married people are. Moving on.

Romance readers are mostly women—78%, to be exact—so that part, at least, is correct. About half of all romance readers in the U.S. are married, the same percentage as all women in the U.S. who are married, so romance readers don’t skew one way or the other.

It’s very hard to make generalizations about romance readers in America. In terms of age, education, and geographic location, they are all over the board.

My source here is RWA statistics about romance readers, gathered by mathematician Olivia Hall and the market research group Carolina Research. They provide no data on cat ownership, but pets are delightful and everyone should adopt at least two from their local shelter.

6.? Romance novels are written by people with fantastic sex lives.

Obviously I’m not going to talk about my own fantastic sex life, because it is private, and I don’t know much about other writers’ sex lives. I’m just going to say that this might be an inaccurate generalization. I met a young woman once who started publishing very popular and effective erotica while she was still a virgin. Assuming romance writers have awesome sex lives is kind of like assuming Robert Ludlum is a skilled assassin because he wrote the Bourne novels. Like, maybe he is, but you don’t know for sure.

If there are other myths that I’ve left out, or other stereotypes about the genre that you suspect might actually be true, I’d love to discuss them! Thanks for stopping by!

WIP Wednesday!

Hey there! Today I’m going to be sharing an excerpt from my work in progress. It’s the first novel of a paranormal romance trilogy, and I’m in the middle of revising it now. I considered providing some context for this scene, but I don’t want to give away too much, so here it is with no explanation!

Continue reading “WIP Wednesday!”

100 Sexy Names for Contemporary Romance Heroes!

I have a real interest in character naming, which was why I compiled the master list of historically accurate Regency names a little while ago. For this list, I consulted various online forums where people discuss baby names.

I’ve included both popular names, which can be quite sexy, and rarer ones. The names with asterisks by them are common names for men in their 20s and 30s in the United States, according to the Social Security database.

If you do pick an unusual first name, you might want to go with a pretty normal surname. Conversely, if you have a common first name, you might want a less usual last name to give your guy some flair. OK! Here we go!

100 Sexy Names for Romance Heroes!

  1. Aaron*
  2. Adam* Quintessential solid good-guy name.
  3. Aidan Can also be spelled Aiden.
  4. Alaric Also spelled Alarik.
  5. Alexander He can go by Alex or Xander.
  6. Andrew* Andrew is sexy. Andy is not. I don’t make the rules.
  7. Arturo
  8. Aziel I was sure this would be the name of a Biblical angel or demon, but no.
  9. Bradford
  10. Brandon
  11. Bryce
  12. Brion It looks ten times cooler spelled with an ‘o.
  13. Byron Maybe for a hero who is, like the famous poet, “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”
  14. Caleb
  15. Cameron Camden would be a similar option.
  16. Carrick
  17. Carter
  18. Chance
  19. Chase
  20. Cole
  21. Colt He’s tough! Like a gun! But vulnerable! Like a baby horse! His full name might be Colton.
  22. Clive
  23. Connor Conall is a similar choice.
  24. Daire
  25. Dane
  26. Daniel*
  27. Dante Because of The Inferno, I think this name is broody as hell.
  28. Darius People imagine Darius as a “polite,” “handsome,” “daring” and “strong” black guy.
  29. David*
  30. Dax It’s an unusual name, but it pops up in the U.S. now and again.
  31. Dean
  32. Derek
  33. Desmond
  34. Dominic Also spelled Dominick or Domenic.
  35. Dorran This is a Celtic name that means “stranger.”
  36. Dylan
  37. Eduardo
  38. Eli This would probably be short for Elijah.
  39. Finn
  40. Gabriel
  41. Gage
  42. Gerard
  43. Grant
  44. Griffin He’s named after a mythological beast, so that automatically makes him cool.
  45. Harry I feel we could use a rogue named Harry.
  46. Hudson
  47. Hunter
  48. Ian Ian is probably a sneaky bastard, but a sexy one.
  49. Ivan
  50. Jack* Sometimes a nickname for John or Jonathan, oddly enough.
  51. Jake* Probably short for Jacob.
  52. James*
  53. Jason*
  54. Javier There are a lot of great Spanish names, and this is my favorite.
  55. Jericho
  56. Jesse*
  57. Josh* Or maybe you would rather he went by his full name, Joshua.
  58. Julian
  59. Justin
  60. Kento This is a pretty cool name for your Japanese or Japanese-American hero.
  61. Kane
  62. Kirk
  63. Leo
  64. Liam
  65. Logan
  66. Lucas
  67. Luke
  68. Marcus
  69. Mason
  70. Max Max is trouble…just your kind of trouble. Could be short for Maxim, Maxwell, or Maxmillian.
  71. Micah
  72. Morgan
  73. Nathan* This is a good name for your hunk-next-door type.
  74. Nikhil A name you might use if your character is from India or has Indian heritage.
  75. Peter*
  76. Ramon
  77. Rafael or Raphael
  78. Reid
  79. Raine
  80. Roark or Roarke
  81. Ryan*
  82. Ryder He’s going to come off as something of a cowboy, whether he is one or not.
  83. Sam
  84. Stefan This guy is probably brainy. And possibly kinky.
  85. Tariq Also spelled Tarek or Tarik. This is an Arabic name, and people in the U.S. also think of it as a black American name.
  86. Terrence The baby name survey book says people imagine Terrence as a black man who’s “tall, powerful, and handsome.”
  87. Travis This is another cowboy-ish name.
  88. Tremaine People usually envision Tremaine as black, and basically perfect in every way.
  89. Trenton Or Trent.
  90. Trey
  91. Tristan
  92. Vance
  93. Vaughn This was the name of Jennifer Garner’s boyfriend in Alias. That was a great show.
  94. Vincent
  95. Weston This is a good name for a rich jerk who turns out to be…not a jerk at all!
  96. Will*
  97. Wyatt
  98. Xavier
  99. Zach* Short for Zachary or Zachariah. If you want something not so American, you could go with Zak, short for Zakhar, which is a Russian name. 
  100. Zane


I created a longer version of good names for heroes in general in my book Master Lists for Writers. You might want to check it out! Thanks for stopping by, and happy writing!


How to Not Get Jealous on Facebook (and Elsewhere)

How Not to Get Jealous on Facebook #social media

Yesterday I wrote about how I like it when people brag and share happy things on Facebook. But what if all those boasts and posts about being #blessed make you jealous?

Sometimes we have a good reason to be envious: of people who are healthy when we’re not, for instance, or of people who are traveling around Europe when we are barely making rent. In situations like these, I have no advice, just sympathy.

However, sometimes we are doing just fine, but we still get super jealous… because someone else is doing way, way better. That’s the kind of situation I’m talking about today.

Once in a great while, this emotional reaction can be useful, making us aware of a wish or dream we never dared to admit before. Mostly, though, it teaches us nothing and feels crappy. I’m not giving advice because I think it’s wrong to be jealous, but because I don’t want any of us to feel that way. When you get a stab of jealousy, here are some things that might help. Or maybe not! See what you think.

1. Say something nice right away.

I don’t know why typing “That looks fun to drive!” or “Congratulations, you should celebrate!” helps when you’re coveting somebody’s new car or fancy award…but usually, it does. Maybe it’s just the satisfaction of feeling like a good person.

2. Post something positive yourself.

Even a cheerful status about how you’re grateful for your mom, your dog, or your latte will make you feel a little better. The happiest people are able to appreciate the small things, and not just the big ones.

3. Remember that you don’t know their whole story.

I bet you know the poem “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson. If you don’t, you can read it here, and oh man, it may be the truest poem I’ve ever read. And I read a lot of poetry.

There is nobody walking around on the planet with no problems, and even the person who seems like she has it made may have ones that you never would have guessed. Marital and family problems, addictions, struggles with mental and physical health, money issues–some of these things are kept so secret that not even close friends know.

 When someone’s taking your dream vacation, they might have a lot to be taking a vacation from. When someone is bragging about a promotion, for all you know, it may be the only bright spot in a very tough year for them.

If you assume that most people find life difficult, you’re going to be pretty close to the truth, and you’ll be more likely to empathize and less likely to get jealous.

4. Consider that if it can happen to them, it can happen to you.

This isn’t always true, but sometimes it is. Your college roommate got a great job? That proves that getting a great job is a thing that can actually happen, which is good news! If someone gets something you want, think to yourself, “Someday soon, that’s going to be me.”

5. If you really need to, unfollow.

Many people hesitate to use the “unfollow” button, maybe because they’re afraid the other person will find out. They won’t, and sometimes it’s the right thing to do.

If you’re unable to have a baby and someone’s hourly updates on their infant son are making you want to cry, you’re under no obligation to keep them on your feed. It doesn’t mean you’re mad at this person; it just means you’re taking care of yourself. Ditto for your cousin who posts daily about how wonderful her husband is when you just got a divorce.

These are things that help me, and obviously, they aren’t just specific to Facebook. I hope they work for you too!