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Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Hesitation

Emotion Hesitation

When you want to write the emotion hesitation, 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.

Hesitation is a feeling of uncertainty, doubt, or indecisiveness that arises when a person is faced with a difficult decision or situation. It is a state of being reluctant or hesitant to act, speak, or make a choice. Hesitation can be caused by fear, lack of confidence, or a lack of information or understanding. It can manifest in a person's behavior as hesitation to commit to a course of action, avoidance of making a decision, or a reluctance to take risks. In writing, hesitation can be a powerful tool for character development, as it allows for exploration of a character's inner thoughts and motivations.

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

Different Types of Hesitation

Here are some different types of hesitation:

  • Doubt: The character may hesitate due to uncertainty or lack of confidence in their abilities or decisions.
  • Fear: The character may hesitate due to being afraid of the potential consequences of their actions or the unknown.
  • Indecision: The character may hesitate due to difficulty making a choice between two or more options.
  • Perfectionism: The character may hesitate due to the desire to make the perfect decision or take the perfect action, leading to over-analyzing and second-guessing.

Situations Associated with Hesitation

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

  • Being faced with a difficult decision that has high stakes
  • Feeling uncertain about the outcome of a situation
  • Experiencing fear or anxiety about the potential consequences of an action
  • Doubting one's abilities or qualifications to handle a task or responsibility
  • Feeling conflicted or torn between two options or choices
  • Being unsure of how to proceed in a new or unfamiliar situation
  • Feeling pressure or expectations from others that create doubt or uncertainty
  • Experiencing a past failure or trauma that creates fear of making a mistake again

Physical Reactions to Hesitation

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

  • Avoiding eye contact or looking down
  • Fidgeting or restlessness
  • Stuttering or stumbling over words
  • Pausing or hesitating before speaking or acting
  • Sweating or blushing
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Nervous laughter or forced smiles
  • Sighing or deep breaths
  • Tapping fingers or feet
  • Wrinkled brow or tense facial muscles

Remember, these physical signs and behaviors are just a starting point. Every individual may express hesitation in their own unique way, so it's important to consider their personality and past experiences when crafting a character.

Thoughts Associated with Hesitation

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing hesitation might have:

  • What if I make the wrong choice?
  • I don't know if I'm ready for this.
  • Maybe I should wait and think about it more.
  • What if I regret this decision later?
  • I'm scared of the unknown.
  • I don't want to disappoint anyone.
  • What if I fail?
  • I wish someone could make this decision for me.

Atmosphere of Hesitation

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

  • Use a setting that is unfamiliar or chaotic to create a sense of unease and hesitation in the character.
  • Create a tense atmosphere by using short sentences and avoiding flowery language.
  • Use sensory details, such as the sound of footsteps echoing or the smell of burning, to heighten the character's sense of hesitation.
  • Have the character hesitate physically, such as by fidgeting or pausing before speaking, to show their internal struggle.
  • Use the weather to reflect the character's hesitation, such as a storm brewing in the background.
  • Set the scene at a crossroads or in a place of indecision to emphasize the character's hesitation.

Verbs Associated with Hesitation

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

  • Pause
  • Stumble
  • Flinch
  • Halt
  • Teeter
  • Hover
  • Waver
  • Balk
  • Dither
  • Vacillate
  • Falter
  • Stutter
  • Fumble
  • Hem and haw
  • Second-guess
  • Procrastinate
  • Delay
  • Tarry
  • Dawdle

Emotions Before Hesitation

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

  • Confusion
  • Doubt
  • Fear
  • Apprehension
  • Uncertainty
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Indecisiveness
  • Skepticism

Emotions After Hesitation

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

  • Regret
  • Relief
  • Indecision
  • Anxiety
  • Doubt
  • Fear
  • Empowerment
  • Resentment
  • Disappointment

Telling Hesitation Examples to Avoid

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

  • John hesitated before entering the dark room.
  • Mary was hesitant about telling her boss the truth.
  • Tom hesitated for a moment before accepting the job offer.
  • Sarah hesitated when she saw the spider crawling towards her.
  • The soldier hesitated before pulling the trigger.
  • Jack hesitated to ask his crush out on a date.
  • Jane hesitated to speak up during the meeting.
  • The detective hesitated before opening the envelope.
  • Emily hesitated before taking the first step on the high wire.

Practical Examples of Showing Hesitation

Here are some examples of showing hesitation in a sentence:

  • She chewed on her bottom lip and looked at the ground before slowly nodding.
  • His hand hovered over the doorknob as he debated whether or not to enter the room.
  • She took a step forward, then stopped abruptly and glanced back over her shoulder.
  • He opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it and shook his head.

Exercises for Showing Hesitation

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing hesitation:

  • Write a scene where the character hesitates to speak up in a meeting or social gathering. Explore their internal dialogue and the reasons behind their hesitation.
  • Describe a moment where the character hesitates to take a risky action, such as crossing a busy street or jumping off a cliff. Show how their hesitation affects their decision-making process and their emotions.
  • Write a dialogue between two characters where one is hesitant to reveal a secret or important information. Explore the power dynamics between the characters and how the hesitance affects the mood of the scene.
  • Describe a character who is hesitant to make a big life decision, such as quitting their job or ending a relationship. Show how their hesitation affects their daily life and their relationships with others.

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

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