Sunday, 1 April 2012

Writing Advice: How to Show Emotions in Your Writing




Here is a list I compiled with the help of my friends that I use to help me express emotions when I'm writing. If you have the same habit as me of telling the reader instead of showing, then this list may be of some help to you. I have posted my list here to benefit anyone who finds it useful. I use this all the time when I'm writing, and it has proved to be very popular on writing.com, so I thought it was time to share it with the blogging world. Please feel free to copy this and print it out if you find it useful.



The List...

Happy...

Facial expression...

mouth curve upward
upward curl
features lightened
eyes crinkle - crow's-feet
brows lifted
wrinkled forehead
lip corners stretch sideward
lips drew backward
brightness
eyes sparkled
face lit up
teeth flash
eyes dance
eyes: shine, glitter, glisten, flash, flicker, twinkle, glint, shimmer
cheeks burn rosy
crooked smile
little breath
face brightened
face flushed


Posture...

dancing about/spin around
clapping hands
body relaxed
deep breaths
threw head back
jumping with joy
clutching/rubbing hands together
threw out arms
punch air
run around
throwing things in air
shoulders lifted
smile/grin/laugh/cheer/cry
giggle
squeezes self
pinches self
tension eased from muscles

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Sad...

Facial expression...

downcast
blubber/bawl/howl
dejected
sniffing
tearing eyes
tears swelled in eyes
blinking away tears
glance downward
lips bowed
contorted features/face
mouth opened
close eyes
lower jaw/lip quivered
nose tiptilted
face dropped
frown
lowered eyelids
wrinkled forehead
cry/weep/sob
deep sigh
heart heavy
snivel
snuffle
blubber
heave a sigh
mournful eyes
downward turned lips

posture...

drooping shoulders
mope/sulk
crestfallen
bowed-head
press temples
shake head
sunken chest
limp body
slumped
wave hand (dismissive?)
hold head
hunch/sprawl
sagging limbs
curl up
suck thumb
cover mouth
tremble/shake/shudder
cup chin in hand
racking sobs
wipe away tears
rub sore nose
shove hands in pockets
disconsolate


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Scared...

Facial expression...

face flushed
eyes widened
eyelids/eyebrows lifted
panting/gasping
heart raced
head rushing
mouth opened
jaw dropped/gaping
pupils narrowed
brows lifted
wrinkled forehead
teeth chatter
sweat/shiver/cold
butterflies
crying
face paled
blood drained from face
Colour drained from skin
teeth on edge
eyes white with fear
eyes rolling
whispered prayers or curses
voice broke
wheeze/stutter
stammer


posture...

drawing back
fidget
jump
raising arms
cover/hide face
shaking/tremble
knees folded
palms folded
falter
squirm
curl in a ball
fettle position
collapse
shiver/quake/Tremor
clench fists
uncontrollable spasm tremble/shake
stumbled
head wobbled
cringe/shrink/recoil
cower
shudder
knees give way
neck hairs raise
nauseous/vomiting
pass wind (Lesley's suggestion)
wet yourself (Jayde's suggestion)
chill bumps on skin
hair standing on end
clutches self
clammy skin
cold sweat


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Angry...

Facial expression...

bared-teeth
smouldered
intense stare
flared nostrils
eyes narrowed
eyebrows draw together
eyelids drew together
flushed cheeks
blushing deep red
wrinkled nose
neck reddened
lips thinned
jaw line pulsed
jaw muscles twitched/trembled
throbbing veins
grind teeth
clench jaw
rigid throat
bite down/finger
draw breath/inhale
face tightened
scowl
glower
snarl
growl
bellow
puff
face burning
harder voice
smile: curved, warped, twisted

posture...

aggressive stance
seize
clench/wave fist
trembling hands
stiffened/tighten muscles
shaking arms upward
punch air
stamp foot
snort/huff
kicking
agitated
sharp footsteps
thumping fist
lashing out/throwing
dropping to knees
flinch/tremble
pacing
cry out
scream
mumbling
lash out
bunch fists
curl fists
hammer at
tap foot/fold arms
pull own hair
strangle on a scream
shriek


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Confused...

Facial expression...

blank expression
frown
eyebrows lowered/drew together
gaze downward
eyes narrowed
tongue protruding
biting tongue
mouth opened
lips to one side
sigh/blow/exhale
squeeze lips together
pursed lips
mumble
mutter
screw up face in thought
cock one eye up
slatted eyes
lift of chin
puckered/wrinkled/knit brow

posture...

shaking/scratch head
tilted head
rub back of neck
focused/precise movements
finger to chin/mouth
pull head back
lean backwards
blank stare
fidget
shrug shoulders
hand over mouth
rub face
hand on head
hold out palms
cock head
hands on hips
tap foot
hunker down
shrug

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Surprised...

Facial expression...

open-mouthed
jaw dropped/gapped
eyes widened
pupils narrowed
eyelids raised
brows lifted
nose/nostrils flared
face flushed
tongue protruding
fluttering eyelashes
flickering eyebrows
wrinkled forehead
gasp/pant/inhale
sharp intake of breath
jaw tensed
exclaim
brows fly up on head
open mouth
cried out

posture...

step/draw backwards
jump
put hands to mouth
raise arms
grasp cheeks
hold hands to chest
cover mouth
bite together/finger(s)
flinch/wince/tremble/shake
cower
yell/cry/scream
clasps hands before chin
slaps own face with one or both hands

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Excited...

Facial expression...

exhilaration
panting/gasping
eyes widened
smile/grin/laugh
lips curled
cheeks lifted
flushing
red face/neck
pant deep/short breath
gape/drool
dancing eyes
eyes over-bright
tongue flicks over lips
heart quickened
tingling on skin


posture...

dancing about
clapping/rubbing hands
clutching head/hands together
hop/skip
jumping around
cover face
punching air
bobbing up and down
slapping thigh
shaking fists
biting finger/grit teeth
running on spot
cartwheel
reach into the air
cry/yell/scream/squeak/shriek
wringing their hands
bounces on toes
rocks on heels
feels faint
swoons
holds breath

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pain...

Facial expression...

face contract in a grimacing smile
face crumpled
veins bulging
grit teeth
closed eyes
eyes glazed
eyes watered
flared nostrils
reddened face/features
bite lip
neck widened
curse
gasp/pant
licks parched lips
grunts
groans
moans
cries out
weeps
pleads
delirium
tosses head from side to side
ragged breath
face clenched


posture...

muscles tightened
involuntary spasm
ridged/tense
arched back
reaching
clenched fists
shiver/tremble
fitting/flinch
thrash
nauseous/vomiting
strains
limps
hobbles
stumbles





16 comments:

  1. What an excellent post! I try to show, not tell- but sometimes it is tough to show the same emotion in a different way. This list could be very helpful. You are so kind to share it with us. Thanks so much!

    ~Jess
    http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

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  2. Thanks, Jess :) It's my pleasure to share. I find it a great help, so if it helps anyone else, that's great.

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  3. Great list, Kurt! But you forgot how to explain via expression and posture when someone is puking rainbows. Just fyi.

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    1. Thanks Rachel :) haha!! Well, what can I say, nobody's perfect! :D

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  4. Nice list, Kurt. One to bookmark. Meanwhile, I just "tagged" you with the Lucky 7 Meme on my blog, where I pass on the rules for how it works. It's kind of a neat tag.

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    1. Awww, thank you, Elizabeth :) I'm so sorry, I only just saw this! I'm half a month late LOL

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  5. Very nice, Kurt. I'm sure I will refer to this list often.

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    1. Thank you, Maureen :) I'm so glad you find it helpful.

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  6. Thank you:) I did 5 searches before I found you:)

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting :) And I really appreciate the share on your blog. That's very kind of you :)

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  7. You're wonderful!!! Thank you.

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    1. hahaha!! Thank you, Betty :) I'm glad you found it helpful :) Welcome to my blog!

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  8. Thanks for this, I've been having so much trouble with the whole emotion describing thing. Bookmarked :)

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    1. My pleasure, Amy :) Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I use this list all the time still when I'm writing. I'm happy you found it useful :)

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  9. Thank you so much for taking the time to write these down and for sharing. My friend and I run a memoir writing group and this is a topic we have discussed often. Since you have so kindly allowed us to copy and share I will do that with my group this week. Of course you will get the credit. Thanks again.

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    1. Thank you, Sheila :) The writing group I'm with helped me by making suggestions. Don't you just love writing groups :) Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment.

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