Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Regret

Emotion Regret

When you want to write the emotion regret, 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 show; don't tell and immerse your readers in your story.

Regret is a feeling of sadness, disappointment, or remorse about something that has happened or something that you have done or failed to do. It involves a sense of longing for a different outcome or a desire to change past actions. Regret can be a powerful emotion that can lead to introspection and personal growth if channeled constructively. It is important to note that regret is a normal part of the human experience and can be a valuable tool for learning from mistakes and making better choices in the future.

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

Different Types of Regret

Here are some different types of regret:

  • Personal Regret: Regret for a personal action or decision made in the past.
  • Relationship Regret: Regret for a past decision or action that negatively impacted a relationship.
  • Missed Opportunity Regret: Regret for not taking advantage of a past opportunity or for not pursuing a goal or dream.
  • Life Regret: Regret for choices made that led to a life that is not fulfilling or satisfying.
  • Survivor Regret: Regret for surviving a traumatic event while others did not.
  • Parental Regret: Regret for past parenting decisions or actions that negatively impacted a child.
  • Moral Regret: Regret for violating one's own moral or ethical standards.

Situations Associated with Regret

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

  • Making a decision that has negative consequences
  • Failing to take action when action was needed
  • Losing something or someone valuable
  • Hurting someone they care about
  • Realizing they missed an opportunity
  • Not living up to their potential
  • Saying or doing something they cannot take back
  • Ignoring their own intuition or instincts
  • Wasting time on something unimportant

Physical Reactions to Regret

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

  • A slumped posture and lowered head
  • Wrinkled brow and furrowed forehead
  • Heavy sighs and deep breaths
  • Avoiding eye contact or looking downcast
  • Fidgeting or restlessness
  • A trembling or shaking voice
  • Tears or redness in the eyes
  • Repetitive actions like pacing or tapping
  • Self-soothing gestures like rubbing the arms or hands

Thoughts Associated with Regret

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing regret might have:

  • I wish I had done things differently.
  • I can't believe I let that opportunity slip away.
  • If only I had listened to my instincts.
  • Why did I ever think that was a good idea?
  • I should have seen the warning signs.
  • I can't shake the feeling that I've made a huge mistake.
  • I'll never forgive myself for what I've done.
  • I wish I could go back in time and make a different choice.
  • I'm haunted by what could have been.

Atmosphere of Regret

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

  • Use a desolate or abandoned setting to convey a sense of loss or missed opportunities.
  • Describe a place that has changed drastically since the character's past actions, highlighting the contrast between then and now.
  • Use weather to mirror the character's mood. For example, a rainy day can symbolize sadness or a sense of heaviness.
  • Show the character revisiting a place from their past, such as their childhood home or a former workplace, to trigger memories and emphasize the feeling of regret.
  • Use objects or details in the setting to evoke a sense of nostalgia or longing, such as old photographs or a dilapidated building.
  • Show the character interacting with people or places that remind them of their past mistakes, emphasizing their regret and the weight of their choices.
  • Use sensory details to create a melancholy atmosphere, such as the sound of a distant train or the smell of burning leaves.

Verbs Associated with Regret

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

  • lament
  • rue
  • repent
  • mourn
  • grieve
  • sorrow
  • bemoan
  • deplore
  • apologize
  • bewail
  • feel remorseful
  • feel sorry for
  • wish undone

Emotions Before Regret

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

  • Anticipation
  • Excitement
  • Enthusiasm
  • Hopefulness
  • Joy
  • Satisfaction
  • Contentment
  • Confidence
  • Pride
  • Arrogance
  • Overconfidence
  • Complacency
  • Disbelief
  • Denial
  • Shock
  • Disappointment
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Guilt

Emotions After Regret

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

  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Sadness
  • Disappointment
  • Anguish
  • Despair
  • Remorse
  • Humiliation
  • Self-reproach

Telling Regret Examples to Avoid

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

  • She regretted not listening to her mother's advice.
  • He regretted not taking the job offer when he had the chance.
  • She regretted not saying goodbye to her best friend before she moved away.
  • He regretted not standing up for himself when his boss berated him.
  • She regretted not studying harder for the exam.
  • He regretted not spending more time with his grandparents before they passed away.
  • She regretted not being more patient with her children when they were young.
  • He regretted not saving more money for retirement.
  • She regretted not traveling more when she was younger.

Practical Examples of Showing Regret

Here are some examples of showing regret in a sentence:

  • She replayed the conversation in her mind, wishing she had spoken up instead of staying silent.
  • He sighed heavily as he looked at the broken vase, realizing he had been careless.
  • She couldn't help but think about what could have been if she had made a different choice.
  • He avoided eye contact with his friend, knowing he had let them down by not showing up.

Exercises for Showing Regret

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing regret:

  • Think of a time when you regretted something deeply. Write a scene from your character's perspective where they experience a similar regret.
  • Write a letter from your character to someone they wronged, expressing their regret and asking for forgiveness.
  • Have your character make a decision that leads to a negative consequence. Write a scene where they reflect on their actions and express regret for what they've done.
  • Write a scene where your character encounters someone they used to know but haven't seen in years. Use the conversation to explore any regrets they may have about their past relationship.
  • Have your character witness someone else making the same mistake they did in the past. Write a scene where they express regret for not intervening or warning the other person.
  • Write a scene where your character has the opportunity to rectify a past mistake but ultimately decides not to. Explore the regret they feel as a result of their inaction.
  • Have your character encounter an object or place that reminds them of a past regret. Write a scene where they reflect on the memory and the emotions it brings up.

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

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