One of the hardest parts of creative writing (for me, at least) is communicating emotions.
Oh, it’s easy to say “John felt mad”, but that’s crappy writing. Instead, you want to say it more like “John clenched his fists against the rush of heat in his chest”. That shows the emotion rather than telling it–always much more immersive, and thus better writing all around!
In a previous post, I already mentioned the Emotions Thesaurus. Now, I’ve found another awesome resource for writing emotions: Word Dreams.
The website Word Dreams contains a lot of valuable resources: classes, book reviews, and LOTS of amazing tips for writers. But it’s the “How to Show (Not Tell) an Emotion” series of posts that I found incredibly useful.
The list is broken down into three segments:
These give you a fairly complete list of emotions, and simple ways to write them. For example:
Stress — Withdrawing from others, Angry outbursts, Low energy level, My stomach gets tense.
Excitement — heart race, cheeks flush, pupils dilate, skin tingles, and breathing quickens.
They’re simple examples, but they can help you to avoid all those clich├ęd ways of showing emotions (eyes widening in surprise, clenching your fists when angry, etc.).
I just discovered this page last week, and already I’ve used it a half-dozen times in my own writing. DEFINITELY a useful resource for any writer who wants to “show” instead of “tell” the emotional side of their characters and settings.
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