When it comes to emotion, sometimes we need a brainstorming nudge. After all, each character will express their feelings differently depending on their personality, emotional range, and comfort zone. We hope this short, sample list of expressions will help you better imagine how your character might show this emotion!
If you need to go deeper, we have detailed lists of body language, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and mental responses for 130 emotions in the 2019 expanded second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.
- Crossing and uncrossing the arms or legs
- Drawing one’s mouth into a straight line and biting one’s lip
- Excessive swallowing
- Clearing the throat
- Pushing food around on a plate
- Trying to remain unnoticed (slumping in chair, edging toward an exit)
- Pretending to be unaware of shouting, an argument, or an uncomfortable event
- Turning slowly, unwillingly
- Stilted dialogue
- Choosing a safe spot to wait (back to the wall or corner)
- Consciously forcing one’s limbs to relax
- Nervous laughter
- Nervous habits (picking off nail polish, humming under the breath)
- Warm, sweaty hands…
Win your readers’ hearts by tailoring your character’s emotional responses so they’re compelling, credible, and realistic.
If you struggle with writing emotions, you aren’t alone. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression has helped writers all over the globe, and it can help you. To find out more about this bestselling book, please visit our bookstore.
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Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.