Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Desperation

Emotion Desperation

When you want to write the emotion desperation, it's important to "show" the emotion your character is experiencing through their physical reactions and dialogue, rather than "tell" it. In this article we provide you with inspiration so you can avoid showing not telling and immerse your readers in your story.

Desperation is a state of being filled with despair, hopelessness, and anxiety. It is a feeling of intense urgency or a sense of being trapped, with no way out. When a person is desperate, they may take extreme actions or make hasty decisions due to the overwhelming sense of desperation they feel. This emotion can manifest in different ways, such as crying, screaming, or even shutting down emotionally. Understanding the nuances of desperation can help writers create characters that are more complex and relatable.

  1. Different Types of Desperation
  2. Situations Associated with Desperation
  3. Physical Reactions to Desperation
  4. Thoughts Associated with Desperation
  5. Atmosphere of Desperation
  6. Verbs Associated with Desperation
  7. Emotions Before Desperation
  8. Emotions After Desperation
  9. Telling Desperation Examples to Avoid
  10. Practical Examples of Showing Desperation
  11. Exercises for Showing Desperation

Different Types of Desperation

Here are some different types of desperation:

  • Financial desperation
  • Romantic desperation
  • Health desperation
  • Professional desperation
  • Emotional desperation
  • Existential desperation
  • Survival desperation
  • Hopelessness desperation
  • Desperation for meaning or purpose

Situations Associated with Desperation

Here are some situations where a character might experience the emotion of desperation:

  • Losing a loved one or a cherished possession
  • Facing a life-threatening situation
  • Being trapped or imprisoned
  • Running out of time to complete a crucial task
  • Failing to meet expectations or achieve goals repeatedly
  • Being betrayed or abandoned by someone they trusted
  • Experiencing financial or social ruin
  • Struggling with addiction or mental illness
  • Feeling powerless or helpless in a situation

Physical Reactions to Desperation

Here are some physical reactions a character experiencing desperation might have:

  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Sweating or clammy skin
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Frantic or urgent movements
  • Clenched fists or jaw
  • Wide-eyed or wild-eyed expression
  • Rapid speech or stuttering
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Crying or sobbing
  • Screaming or yelling
  • Begging or pleading
  • Self-destructive behavior (e.g. hitting oneself, pulling out hair)

It's worth noting that not all people will exhibit all of these signs when experiencing desperation, and some may exhibit additional signs not listed here. It's also important to keep in mind that desperation can manifest differently in different individuals depending on their personality, culture, and life experiences.

Thoughts Associated with Desperation

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing desperation might have:

  • I have to find a way out of this situation.
  • No one can help me now, I'm on my own.
  • Why did I let things get this bad?
  • I can't keep going like this, something has to change.
  • What if I never find a way out of this?
  • I'm so tired of feeling helpless and trapped.
  • I'll do anything to get out of this situation.
  • Why does everything keep falling apart?
  • I feel like I'm drowning and I can't catch my breath.

Atmosphere of Desperation

Here are some ways that you might reflect the emotion of desperation in the atmosphere of your scene:

  • Choose a setting that is isolated or claustrophobic, such as a small room or a deserted alleyway, to create a sense of confinement and helplessness.
  • Use imagery that conveys a sense of decay, deterioration, or abandonment, such as peeling paint, broken windows, or overgrown plants, to suggest a sense of loss or hopelessness.
  • Incorporate sounds that are jarring or unnerving, such as sirens, screams, or footsteps, to heighten the sense of tension and urgency.
  • Use weather or lighting to create a sense of foreboding or unease, such as a dark and stormy night, or a dimly lit room with flickering lights.
  • Incorporate props or symbols that suggest a sense of desperation, such as empty pill bottles, a frayed rope, or a handwritten note, to reinforce the emotional state of the character.

Verbs Associated with Desperation

Here are some verbs commonly associated with the emotion of desperation:

  • Cling
  • Beg
  • Plead
  • Crave
  • Yearn
  • Struggle
  • Frantic
  • Panic
  • Wail
  • Sob
  • Tremble
  • Hyperventilate
  • Grasp
  • Clutch
  • Seize
  • Long
  • Reach
  • Grovel
  • Lament

Emotions Before Desperation

Here are some emotions that may come before a character experiences desperation:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Panic
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Frustration
  • Anguish
  • Sadness
  • Disappointment

Emotions After Desperation

Here are some emotions that may come after a character experiences desperation:

  • Hopelessness
  • Resignation
  • Defeat
  • Depression
  • Despondency
  • Helplessness
  • Powerlessness
  • Apathy
  • Numbness
  • Exhaustion
  • Melancholy
  • Sorrow
  • Grief
  • Regret
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Self-pity
  • Anguish
  • Worry
  • Anxiety
  • Fear

Telling Desperation Examples to Avoid

Here are some examples of telling the emotion desperation in a sentence. You should avoid things like this:

  • Bob was desperate to find the key.
  • Sarah felt desperate for love.
  • The team was desperate to win the game.
  • The villagers were desperate for food.
  • Maria was desperate for a job.

Keep in mind that these sentences are telling the reader how the characters feel, rather than showing it through actions or descriptions. It's usually more effective to show emotions through actions, dialogue, and descriptions rather than simply telling the reader how the character is feeling.

Practical Examples of Showing Desperation

Here are some examples of showing desperation in a sentence:

  • I clawed at the dirt, desperate to escape the grave.
  • She scanned the empty street, desperate for a taxi to arrive.
  • His trembling hands fumbled for the keys, desperate to unlock the door.
  • With tears streaming down her face, she pleaded with him, desperate for his forgiveness.

Exercises for Showing Desperation

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing desperation:

  • Write a scene where your character is in a high-pressure situation and has limited time to act.
  • Create a backstory for your character that includes a time when they were in a desperate situation and had to make a tough decision.
  • Write a monologue from your character's perspective, where they express their feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  • Describe your character's physical reactions to their desperation, such as sweating, shaking, or racing heart.
  • Write a scene where your character reaches out to someone for help, but is rejected, causing their desperation to increase.
  • Put your character in a situation where they have to choose between two terrible options, both of which will lead to desperation.
  • Write a dialogue between your character and someone who is trying to talk them out of their desperate actions.
  • Describe the setting around your character in a way that enhances their feeling of desperation, such as a dark alleyway or a deserted street.
  • Write a scene where your character loses everything they hold dear, leading to a sense of desperation.

Want more help with showing emotion instead of telling? You find more help in our full emotions list.

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