Expressing Character Feelings | Using Show-Not-Tell

My friend was angry. He was very angry. He was furious!

From the above sentence, we can tell that the writer’s friend was very very angry. However, do you think that this is an interesting or exciting way to develop a character’s feelings? I’m sure you would agree that there are better ways to do this!

Creative Writing Expressing Character Feeling using show not tell

Hello everyone! I am Mr Joel, an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. In this blog post, I will be sharing about how we can use our character’s actions and facial expressions to develop their feelings!


Character Feelings

When you go about your daily life, do you feel emotions? When you see a cruel child bullying a helpless puppy, do you feel angry? When you receive a present from your friends, do you feel happy?

Donald Glover Community GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Similarly, your characters will feel emotions as your story progresses. Describing their feelings makes them relatable as readers can better understand your characters when they know how your characters feel!


Identifying Character Feelings

When developing your story, always ask yourself – how is your character feeling towards the events that are happening. For example, if your character is being threatened by a bully, would he / she feel excited or terrified?

After you are done identifying the feelings of your character, it is important to show this to readers instead of simply telling them. But how can we do this?

Let’s try this using the emotion of shock.

I want you to close your eyes for a bit and imagine the following scenario. You are walking alone along the void deck below a block of flats. As you are reaching the pillar near the lift, you hear a sound. Suddenly, someone jumps out in front of you and screams in your face.

How would you feel and respond?

If this situation were to happen to me, I would feel and/or do the following:

  • Shrieked in shock

  • Eyes and mouth widen in shock

  • Put my hands up defensively

  • Heart pound in my chest

Shocked Baby GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

As a reader, can you imagine my shock vividly when I show you my feelings and responses in the way above? You can do this too! In order to express a character’s emotions well, I have put in the effort to emphasise on these parts of the character:

Expressing Character Feelings

How will it look like when these vivid descriptions are all put together?

Expressing Character Feelings

Thinking about these categories can help you brainstorm for different ways to show your character’s emotions to your readers.

Today, we have explored how we can use Show-not-Tell to develop the emotion of shock based on a given scenario. However, don’t stop there!

Challenge yourself to do the same when you come across other emotions! The more you do this, the simpler it’ll become!


P6 Write & Shine

Write & Shine Programme Details

Duration: 1.5 hr Weekly

Composition Writing (with 20 Composition Topics covered)

Situational Writing

Mr. Joel

As a teacher, Mr. Joel believes in nurturing independent learners. He hopes to be able to impart his love for English and particularly, writing, to his students by ensuring that the classroom is a safe space where students can come to learn. Learning should be fun and enjoyable! With that in mind, Mr. Joel believes that every student can excel, and he looks forward to helping his students achieve their best in his classes!

Have something to share? Drop us a comment below!

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