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.
· Kind words, a soothing tone
· Squeezing a shoulder or hand
· Crying with the person
· Using clichés (this too will pass, keep your chin up)
· Giving comfort through gifts
· Clumsy attempts to comfort (a weak smile, an awkward hug)
· Fumbling for words, not sure what to say
· Overt patience—sitting and listening intently, ignoring discomforts (cold, rain, heat) just to be there for someone…
Commiseration specifically between guys or male-identifying individuals:
· Saying, Yeah, I hear you, or I feel you man
· A one-shoulder shrug
· Bending closer or leaning in with hands in pockets, asking if he’s all right, if he needs to talk
· A heavy nod
· Listening while participating in another activity
· Offering to take him somewhere—a walk, a car ride, a party
· Offering to avenge the offended party…
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.