Expressing Emotion

A new week. A new month. No more winter Olympics to preoccupy me. <sigh>


This Olympic experience wasn’t what I expected. The anticipated enthusiasm was replaced by something so much greater. Television cameras continuously scanned the faces of both athletes and spectators. There was exhilaration, jubilation and euphoria. And I cried in shared pride.


After THE hockey game Vancouver’s downtown filled with 150,000 revellers who didn’t set fire to garbage bins or break windows but danced and sang in the streets, hugging and high-fiving perfect strangers who shared their elation. And I cried again.


There was so much emotion. I felt it, but it’s hard to describe in words.


That’s true in real life, and also in our writing. We don’t use descriptive words to express emotion in our novels… or do we? Isn’t “show, don’t tell” supposed to apply?

🙂 😀  😦 😮

How do you express emotion in your writing?



Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

9 thoughts on “Expressing Emotion

  1. Hi, Carol, I’ve seen you around Tricia’s blog.

    Absolutely, show don’t tell applies. This morning, I mentioned this very thing in a comment on my blog. I learned that readers don’t like to be told how to feel, but when you show the reader how your character feels, the reader will feel it too.

    1. Thanks for visiting here, Linda. Stop in again anytime. It’s always nice to hear from a fellow writer. I’ll have to mosey over to your blog and see what you’ve said on this topic, too.

  2. Carol, oh my goodness. I would be RICH if I got paid for everytime an editor or critique partner said “show don’t tell”. Not sure why that has been so hard for me. Am I a slow learner? Great thought provoking blog!

  3. I think the “show don’t tell” rules is one of the first real lessons I learned when I started writing, way back when I didn’t know such things existed. Telling the reader what your character’s emotions are does not make for a good story. When I read, I want to experience the emotions myself.

  4. I imagine one of the earliest things we all heard was “show, don’t tell”. If we could reduce good writing to a list it would be right up there near the top. Now if only we could remember to do it all the time! 🙂

  5. Well yeah, you’ve certainly got that right. Showing is hard, but so necessary. And it really is one of those things that becomes better with practice. Just like all those Olympic events. You know?

  6. The showing vs. telling is still something I try to be very conscious of as I’m writing! I’m sure I don’t do it perfectly, but the more I write, the more I can catch myself.

  7. Most of the emotion in my novel comes when I write about things I’ve personally experienced. Those sections flow easily. During the revision process, I’ve had to work hard to get the less familiar feelings across. I’m doing that by describing the physical signs of emotion–like trembling, sweating, etc. or using dialog to reveal what the characters are going through.

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