Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Pity

Emotion Pity

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

Pity is a feeling of sorrow, sympathy or compassion towards someone who is experiencing pain, misfortune, or distress. It involves recognizing the suffering of others and having a desire to alleviate it. Pity often arises when we see someone who is vulnerable or in a weaker position than ourselves, and we feel compelled to help them in some way. It can also involve a sense of sadness or regret about someone's situation. Overall, pity is a complex emotion that reflects our ability to connect with others and respond to their needs.

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

Different Types of Pity

Here are some different types of pity:

  • Compassionate pity: Feeling sorry for someone who is suffering and wanting to help them.
  • Patronizing pity: Feeling superior to someone and looking down on them with pity.
  • Self-pity: Feeling sorry for oneself and wallowing in one's own misery.
  • Conditional pity: Feeling sorry for someone only if they meet certain conditions or expectations.

Situations Associated with Pity

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

  • Witnessing someone in a vulnerable or disadvantaged position
  • Seeing someone experience a loss or setback
  • Recognizing someone's struggle with a difficult situation or circumstance
  • Learning about someone's difficult or traumatic past experiences
  • Seeing someone being mistreated or unfairly judged
  • Observing someone who is struggling with a physical or mental illness
  • Seeing someone being ostracized or excluded from a group
  • Recognizing someone's lack of resources or opportunities compared to others

Physical Reactions to Pity

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

  • Facial expressions: a sad or concerned expression, often with a furrowed brow and downturned mouth
  • Body language: a slumped posture, head tilted to the side, shoulders hunched forward, and arms crossed over the chest
  • Voice: a soft or trembling voice, often with a tone of sympathy or sorrow

Thoughts Associated with Pity

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing pity might have:

  • I feel sorry for them.
  • They don't deserve this.
  • I wish I could help them.
  • It's not fair.
  • I can't imagine what they're going through.
  • I feel their pain.
  • I wish things were different.
  • I don't know how they cope.
  • Why does this always happen to them?

Atmosphere of Pity

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

  • Use dark and gloomy settings, such as a rainy day or a graveyard, to create a somber mood that elicits pity.
  • Have the character interact with a helpless or vulnerable person or animal, such as a homeless person or a wounded bird, to evoke pity in the reader.
  • Use descriptive language that emphasizes the character's pain or suffering, such as describing their physical appearance or the scars on their body.
  • Show the character struggling against an unfair situation or obstacle, such as poverty or illness, to make the reader feel sorry for them.

Verbs Associated with Pity

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

  • Sympathize
  • Commiserate
  • Console
  • Comfort
  • Soothe
  • Empathize
  • Support
  • Understand
  • Alleviate
  • Condole
  • Lament
  • Mourn
  • Grieve
  • Feel for
  • Take pity on

Emotions Before Pity

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

  • Empathy
  • Sympathy
  • Compassion
  • Sadness
  • Sorrow
  • Regret
  • Guilt
  • Shame

Emotions After Pity

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

  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Sympathy
  • Understanding
  • Benevolence
  • Kindness
  • Generosity
  • Support
  • Nurturing

Telling Pity Examples to Avoid

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

  • I felt sorry for her.
  • He pitied the poor man who had lost everything.
  • She looked so pathetic that I couldn't help but feel pity for her.
  • They were the objects of everyone's pity and sympathy.
  • He couldn't help but pity himself for his own foolish mistakes.
  • I had nothing but pity for the sad little creature.
  • He was filled with a sense of pity for the homeless man on the street.
  • She was the recipient of everyone's pity and concern.
  • He saw the look of pity in her eyes and felt even worse.
  • I couldn't help but feel a sense of pity for the defeated warrior.

Remember, showing the emotion of pity is often more effective than telling it!

Practical Examples of Showing Pity

Here are some examples of showing pity in a sentence:

  • She looked at the abandoned puppy, shivering in the cold, with eyes full of tears.
  • He saw the old man walking slowly with a cane, and felt a sudden pang of empathy for his fragility.
  • The mother hugged her crying daughter, whispering softly that everything was going to be alright.
  • He heard the homeless man's story and felt a sense of compassion for his difficult circumstances.

Exercises for Showing Pity

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing pity:

  • Think of a time when you felt pity for someone. Write down what happened and how you felt in that moment. Use those emotions to inform your character's reactions and thoughts.
  • Write a scene from the perspective of a character who is the object of pity. How do they perceive the world around them? What do they want others to see or understand about them?
  • Create a character who feels pity for others as a default emotion. How does this affect their relationships with others? How do they cope with the emotional toll of constantly feeling sorry for others?
  • Write a story where a character's pity leads to unexpected consequences. How do they learn from their mistakes and grow as a result?

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

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