Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Nostalgia

Emotion Nostalgia

When you want to write the emotion nostalgia, 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.

Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past, usually associated with happy or pleasant memories. It is a feeling of yearning for a time or place that has passed, often accompanied by a sense of loss or a desire to return to a past era or experience. Nostalgia can be triggered by various stimuli such as music, smells, tastes, or visual cues that remind us of a specific time or place in our past.

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

Different Types of Nostalgia

Here are some different types of nostalgia:

  • Bittersweet nostalgia: a mix of happy and sad feelings for past experiences
  • Romantic nostalgia: longing for a past romantic relationship or time period
  • Childhood nostalgia: longing for the simplicity and innocence of childhood
  • Cultural nostalgia: longing for a past culture or way of life
  • Place nostalgia: longing for a past place or home
  • Music nostalgia: nostalgic feelings evoked by certain songs or music genres

Situations Associated with Nostalgia

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

  • Returning to a place from one's childhood or adolescence
  • Seeing or hearing something that reminds the character of a happy memory from the past
  • Reconnecting with an old friend or family member after a long time apart
  • Looking through old photographs or keepsakes
  • Hearing a song or smelling a scent that brings back memories
  • Reminiscing about the "good old days" with others
  • Feeling a sense of loss or sadness over the passage of time
  • Reflecting on past accomplishments or missed opportunities

Physical Reactions to Nostalgia

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

  • A wistful expression on the face
  • A faraway gaze or staring off into the distance
  • A sigh or a deep breath
  • Clasping hands or touching objects that hold sentimental value
  • Smiling or laughing at memories
  • Tears or a lump in the throat
  • A slower pace of movement or lingering in a particular place or moment
  • Seeking out familiar scents, sounds, or sights associated with past memories
  • Talking about past experiences with fondness or longing

Thoughts Associated with Nostalgia

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing nostalgia might have:

  • Remembering past experiences vividly
  • Longing for a time or place that no longer exists
  • Wishing to relive happy moments from the past
  • Feeling a sense of sadness or melancholy
  • Thinking about old friends or loved ones who have passed away or moved on
  • Reflecting on how things used to be and feeling a sense of loss or regret
  • Feeling disconnected from the present moment
  • Being reminded of a certain smell, sound, or sensation that triggers nostalgic feelings
  • Feeling a sense of comfort or familiarity when revisiting old places or looking at old photos

Atmosphere of Nostalgia

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

  • Use sensory descriptions to evoke the feeling of nostalgia, such as the scent of an old book or the taste of a childhood treat.
  • Include familiar landmarks or objects that evoke a sense of familiarity, like a childhood bedroom or a favorite park.
  • Use language that is reminiscent of a certain time period or era, such as slang or cultural references.
  • Include characters that the protagonist has a history with, like old friends or family members.
  • Use flashbacks or memories to show the past in a nostalgic light.
  • Use muted or sepia tones in the description of the setting to evoke a sense of the past.

Verbs Associated with Nostalgia

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

  • Remembering
  • Recalling
  • Reminiscing
  • Nurturing
  • Cherishing
  • Longing
  • Yearning
  • Pining
  • Regretting
  • Reflecting
  • Missing
  • Reliving
  • Nostalgizing
  • Revisiting
  • Wishing
  • Savoring
  • Craving
  • Aching
  • Sentimentalizing

Emotions Before Nostalgia

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

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Longing
  • Melancholy
  • Remorse
  • Regret
  • Sentimentality
  • Yearning
  • Wistfulness

Emotions After Nostalgia

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

  • Melancholy
  • Longing
  • Regret
  • Sentimentality
  • Fondness
  • Yearning
  • Remorse
  • Bittersweetness
  • Nostalgic yearning

Telling Nostalgia Examples to Avoid

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

  • John felt nostalgic for his childhood as he flipped through the photo album.
  • Maria's heart was heavy with nostalgia as she walked through her old hometown.
  • The old movie soundtrack filled Sarah with a sense of nostalgia for her teenage years.
  • Nostalgia washed over Mark as he read his old diary from college.
  • As she packed up her childhood bedroom, Lucy couldn't shake the feeling of nostalgia.
  • The familiar scent of her grandmother's cooking filled her with nostalgia for family gatherings.
  • Every time he passed by the old park, nostalgia crept up on him.
  • The sight of her childhood home brought on a wave of nostalgia for Jane.
  • Despite the changes, the old coffee shop still filled Jake with nostalgia for his college days.

Practical Examples of Showing Nostalgia

Here are some examples of showing nostalgia in a sentence:

  • The old photograph brought tears to her eyes as she remembered the day they took it.
  • He smiled as he walked into the antique shop, remembering the trinkets that filled his childhood.
  • The smell of freshly baked cookies reminded her of her grandmother's kitchen.
  • She couldn't help but feel a pang of longing as she listened to the song that played at their high school prom.

Exercises for Showing Nostalgia

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing nostalgia:

  • Think of a specific object or place that triggers a nostalgic feeling in you. Describe it in detail, focusing on sensory details like smells, sounds, and textures. Use this as inspiration for a scene in which your character experiences a similar feeling of nostalgia.
  • Write a letter from your character to someone or something from their past that they feel nostalgic about. Encourage them to be honest and emotional in their writing.
  • Create a playlist of songs that evoke a sense of nostalgia for your character. Listen to the songs while you write scenes in which your character is experiencing this emotion.
  • Write a scene in which your character comes across an old photo album or other memento from their past. Encourage them to reflect on their memories and feelings in the moment.
  • Think about a time in your character's past when they were happy and carefree. Write a scene in which they remember this moment and feel a sense of nostalgia for it.
  • Write a scene in which your character revisits a place from their past that holds sentimental value. Encourage them to reflect on how they've changed since the last time they were there.

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

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