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.
· A hard shake of the head
· Swiping the arm across the air between yourself and another in an “enough!” gesture
· Sarcasm, bitter words, insults
· A tightness in the face
· Thrusting the chin upward
· Making fists at one’s sides
· Anger (shaking, shouting)
· Squared shoulders, rigid muscles
· Refusing to listen
· Thrusting out one’s lip
· A sullen glower or glare
· A temper tantrum (kicking, screaming, drumming feet onto the floor, jumping up and down in place)
· Single-minded determination, a keen focus on one’s goal despite pitfalls or opposition…
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.
Prefer the flexibility of instant online access and greater searchability?
The Emotion Thesaurus is also at our sister site, One Stop for Writers. Visit the Emotion Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.
TIP: While you’re there, check out our hyper-intelligent Character Builder that helps you create deep, memorable characters in half the time!
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.
JJ Cooper says
Not a bad list of indicators. I think it should be noted that these indicators are not indicative of ‘stubborness’ when read in isolation. Verbal, vocal and non-verbal communication may conflict for a variety of reasons. Nervousness may be a cause of crossed arms, stubbornness or even the subject being cold; the subject may just feel comfortable crossing his/her arms.
What I’m trying to say in a nutshell is that you need to consider these indicators if/when they come in clusters and not necessarily in isolation. Still, this list is a good start.
Ghost Girl says
Like creative a, I found myself in that list. Thanks for sharing!
Creative A says
Nice. A lot of these actually reminded me of the way I act when I’m frustrated…walking away, tight jaw, etc. I love your whole thesaurus idea *thumbs up*
Subtle facial gestures can also portray stubbornness. For instance, a cock of the eyebrow or an eyeroll.
Susan Sandmore says
I favor fingers-in-ears-saying-“Lalalalala–I can’t HEAR YOU!”