Created By: BonsaiForest on March 16, 2011 Last Edited By: BonsaiForest on June 6, 2012

Body Writing

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Sometimes people write on a friend's body, or their own, with a pen or a marker. They might be drawing a little doodle, or writing a message, or writing a reminder for themselves. They draw on someone's cheek, they write on the palm of their own hand, they draw on someone's foot, whatever.

Oftentimes, this is simple playfulness between friends, but occasionally implies intimacy, as it's generally only done between very close friends.

In some cases, however, drawing on the body has magical properties instead and is done to invoke a spell or magical abilities.

Examples:

  • Zits had Jeremy and Sara, who are boyfriend/girlfriend, writing a message for each other on each other's feet, promising not to read their message until after Sara goes home.
  • The "One World" video meme on YouTube has people write a message on the palm of their hand to express themselves.

Any more examples? I know it happened in an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess in the "magical incantation" variant, but I'm not sure how. It's also happened in other works.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • March 16, 2011
    BonsaiForest
    Anyone else got examples?
  • March 16, 2011
    foxley
  • March 16, 2011
    BonsaiForest
    Hmm. Not quite. The Human Notepad says it's for a character who's covered with writing. But the similarity between the two tropes seems to me that maybe that trope should be split, or expanded to include only writing on part of a person as well as writing on the whole body?

    Because as it is, this is indeed redundant, or risks overlap if nothing else. But Human Notepad appears to be something specific, and this is something specific, and having the two tropes runs the risk of confusing people.
  • March 17, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In a Dream Sequence on Buffy The Vampire Slayer Willow drew a complex series of Chinese-type characters on Tara's back.

    Also, Rule Thirty Four. I'll leave it at that for now.
  • March 17, 2011
    Batshizz
    JIGGLYPUFF. Every time a Pokemon character falls asleep because of one, they get drawn all over.
  • June 4, 2012
    captainsandwich
    done in Doctor Who. It was something like they were facing these aliens that would make them forget encountering the alien, so what they did was mark there body so they would know if they encountered the alien before (and how many times).
  • June 4, 2012
    captainsandwich
    In Dungeons And Dragons 3.X there are a few cases of having text written on a body that involve spells. there is one for wizards and he uses the writing on his body as a spell book, i think it requires a feat. Another case is for dragons (that one is in dragon magazine). and another one gives undead the spell stitched template.
  • June 5, 2012
    Andygal
    ^ there's also the Mark of Justice spell, which requires you to draw a mark on the victim.

    and I dunno if this counts, but The Stormlight Archive has a character that shows up that can change the colour of his skin, he uses it to record notes when he doesn't have a notebook (which is apparently often).
  • June 5, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • LA Story. While SanDeE* and Harris K. Telemacher are having dinner, she writes her name on the palm of his hand so he can remember how to spell it.
  • June 5, 2012
    NightNymph
    In another episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Harmony draws a heart and writes "Spike Loves Harmony" on Spike's back while he is trying to sleep. Spike is not amused.
  • June 5, 2012
    jkbeta
    This trope needs to differentiate itself from Face Doodling.
  • June 6, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Richie and his friend draw on Rob's back while he's asleep, connecting the dots (Rob's freckles) to form the Liberty Bell.
    • Chuck: Jeff & Lester try to figure out what Chuck et al. are up to and take notes on Jeff's arm.
    • Sledge Hammer!: A tattoo artist gives Sledge some directions by drawing it in tattoo ink on the back of a guy he's tattooing.
  • June 6, 2012
    zarpaulus
    You know I think Human Notepad needs a split (even internally) between tattoos and plain old marker.
  • June 6, 2012
    Generality
    I think the distinction between "some writing" and "covered in writing" is insignificant, and the fact that the Human Notepad page contains examples of both bears this out. If there's a problem with the suggestion that the Human Notepad page mentions only the latter in its description, that could be easily remedied by removing that specific phrase, and perhaps expanding the description to provide a broader overview of the trope.

    ^ I think there's a trope in people being covered in tattoos, be they textual or not, that could be split. Otherwise, I'm not inclined to think the form of the body writing makes much difference.
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