Kathy Steinemann Shares 100 Ways To Shrug

Nicholas C. Rossis

Kathy Steinemann | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksAward-winning author Kathy Steinemann recently shared a great resource: over 100 ways to say “shrug.” As all of my first-draft characters seem to have a nervous tick (which mercifully disappears by the second draft), I appreciated this so much that I just had to share.

As Kathy points out, there are many reasons why someone might shrug–indeed, it is this very versatility that explains why I overuse it in my first drafts. So, she has wisely categorized shrugs according to the emotion we want to convey:


  • Rapid blinking
  • Rubbing the chin
  • Scratching the head
  • Wrinkling the nose


  • Changing the subject
  • Hesitating when answering questions
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Shifty eyes


  • Holding something in front of the body
  • Leaning away from someone
  • Licking the lips
  • Squinting


  • Locking eyes with someone
  • Raising the palms in a not me gesture
  • Shuffling backward
  • Sweating


  • Cords or veins of neck…

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