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Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Melancholy

Emotion Melancholy

When you want to write the emotion melancholy, 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 emotional tells and immerse your readers in your story.

Melancholy is a complex emotion that is characterized by a deep and prolonged sadness, often with a sense of loneliness or isolation. It can manifest as a feeling of gloominess or melancholy, and can be accompanied by a sense of loss or regret. In literature, melancholy is often associated with introspection, contemplation, and a sense of longing or yearning for something that is lost or unattainable. Melancholy can also be expressed through a variety of physical symptoms, such as lethargy, fatigue, and a loss of appetite.

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

Different Types of Melancholy

Here are some different types of melancholy:

  • Nostalgic Melancholy: Feeling sad about a past event or a time that can never be relived.
  • Romantic Melancholy: A bittersweet feeling of sadness and longing often experienced in the context of unrequited love or a past relationship.
  • Existential Melancholy: A sense of sadness and despair that arises from questioning the meaning and purpose of life.
  • Creative Melancholy: A type of melancholy that can inspire creativity, often associated with artists, writers, and musicians.

Situations Associated with Melancholy

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

  • The loss of a loved one or a pet
  • A significant change in life circumstances, such as a move or a job loss
  • Feeling isolated or disconnected from others
  • Unresolved personal conflicts or regrets
  • A general sense of disappointment or disillusionment with life
  • A lack of purpose or direction in life
  • Physical or mental health issues
  • Being in a situation where there is no hope or a clear path forward
  • Memories of past traumas or negative experiences

Physical Reactions to Melancholy

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

  • Slumped or hunched posture, with shoulders rounded and head down
  • Slow, lethargic movements or lack of movement
  • Heavy sighing or sighing frequently
  • Lack of eye contact or avoiding eye contact
  • Slow or quiet speech, with a flat tone
  • Tearfulness or crying easily
  • Lack of interest in activities or hobbies that are usually enjoyable
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping excessively
  • Lack of appetite or overeating
  • Feeling weighed down or physically heavy
  • Withdrawal from social situations or isolating oneself

Thoughts Associated with Melancholy

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing melancholy might have:

  • Everything feels heavy and difficult.
  • I don't see the point in anything.
  • Nothing brings me joy anymore.
  • I feel like I'm just going through the motions.
  • I'm so tired all the time.
  • I feel like I'm alone, even when I'm surrounded by people.
  • I'm haunted by memories of the past.
  • I can't shake this sadness no matter how hard I try.
  • I feel like I'm stuck in a rut and there's no way out.

Atmosphere of Melancholy

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

  • Use weather or natural elements such as rain, fog, or a gray sky to create a somber atmosphere.
  • Use dim lighting or shadows to convey a sense of sadness or loneliness.
  • Choose a quiet or isolated setting, such as an empty park or a deserted street, to emphasize the character's feelings of despair or isolation.
  • Incorporate objects that evoke a sense of nostalgia, such as old photographs or sentimental items, to create a feeling of longing or loss.
  • Use muted or soft colors, such as gray or blue, to create a sense of sadness.
  • Incorporate music or sounds that evoke a melancholic mood, such as a mournful piano melody or the sound of raindrops falling on a windowpane.
  • Use metaphors or similes that reflect the character's emotional state, such as comparing the sky to a heavy blanket or describing a heart as heavy as a stone.

Verbs Associated with Melancholy

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

  • Brood
  • Lament
  • Mourn
  • Weep
  • Sigh
  • Reflect
  • Contemplate
  • Sulk
  • Grieve
  • Long
  • Pine
  • Yearn
  • Regret
  • Despair

Emotions Before Melancholy

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

  • Sadness
  • Grief
  • Disappointment
  • Regret
  • Longing
  • Nostalgia
  • Heartbreak
  • Despair
  • Hopelessness
  • Misery
  • Sorrow
  • Anguish
  • Despondency
  • Depression

Emotions After Melancholy

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

  • Optimism
  • Contentment
  • Serenity
  • Acceptance
  • Resilience
  • Gratitude
  • Hope
  • Peacefulness
  • Empathy

Telling Melancholy Examples to Avoid

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

  • She felt very sad and hopeless.
  • He was melancholic and brooding.
  • She was depressed and didn't want to do anything.
  • He was feeling down and hopeless.
  • She was in a melancholy mood and couldn't shake it off.
  • He was feeling blue and didn't know how to snap out of it.
  • She was in a state of despair and couldn't see the bright side.
  • He was in a funk and couldn't find joy in anything.
  • She was feeling gloomy and couldn't find any joy in life.

Practical Examples of Showing Melancholy

Here are some examples of showing melancholy in a sentence:

  • The rain tapped against the window, a soothing sound that only deepened her sadness.
  • He looked out at the vast ocean, feeling small and insignificant in comparison to its endless expanse.
  • The empty streets were a stark reminder of what once was, and what could never be again.
  • The old photographs stirred up memories she had long since buried, leaving her feeling hollow and lost.

Exercises for Showing Melancholy

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing melancholy:

  • Write a scene where the character is sitting alone in a quiet room, looking out the window at the rain. Describe the character's thoughts and feelings in detail.
  • Create a character profile for someone who has experienced a great loss, such as a loved one or a career opportunity. Explore how this loss has affected the character's personality and behavior.
  • Write a letter from the character to someone they have lost touch with over the years. Describe the character's feelings of regret and longing.
  • Describe a character's daily routine in a way that highlights their feelings of sadness and lack of motivation.
  • Write a scene where the character is attending a social gathering, but feels out of place and disconnected from the people around them. Describe the character's inner thoughts and feelings in detail.
  • Create a playlist of songs that capture the mood of melancholy, and use it as inspiration for character development.
  • Write a scene where the character is reminiscing about a happy memory from the past, but the memory is tinged with sadness because it can never be recreated.

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

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