Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Remorse

Emotion Remorse

When you want to write the emotion remorse, 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.

Remorse is a feeling of regret or guilt for a wrong that one has done. It involves acknowledging one's responsibility for a past action or decision that has resulted in negative consequences or harm to oneself or others. It often involves a deep sense of sadness, shame, and a desire to make amends or seek forgiveness. Remorse is a complex emotion that can be difficult to process, but it can also be a powerful motivator for growth and change.

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

Different Types of Remorse

Here are some different types of remorse:

  • Regret: feeling sorry or disappointed about something one did or failed to do.
  • Guilt: feeling responsible or accountable for a wrongdoing or mistake.
  • Shame: feeling embarrassed or humiliated about one's actions or identity.
  • Sorrow: feeling sadness or grief over a loss or a negative outcome.
  • Contrition: feeling genuinely sorry and willing to make amends for one's actions.
  • Self-reproach: feeling blame or disapproval towards oneself for a mistake or a wrong decision.

Situations Associated with Remorse

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

  • The character may have caused harm to another person intentionally or unintentionally.
  • The character may have made a decision that resulted in negative consequences for themselves or others.
  • The character may have neglected or failed to act when they should have, resulting in negative consequences.
  • The character may have betrayed someone's trust or broken a promise.
  • The character may have acted impulsively without considering the potential consequences.
  • The character may have taken advantage of someone or used them for personal gain.

Physical Reactions to Remorse

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

  • A downturned or averted gaze
  • Fidgeting or restless movements
  • Heavy sighing or deep breathing
  • Slumped or hunched posture
  • Avoidance of eye contact or physical touch
  • Apologetic gestures such as hand wringing or head shaking
  • Repetitive self-blaming phrases or statements
  • Strained or shaky voice
  • Crying or tearful expressions

Thoughts Associated with Remorse

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing remorse might have:

  • I can't believe I did that.
  • Why didn't I think before acting?
  • I should have known better.
  • I wish I could go back and change things.
  • I feel so guilty for what I've done.
  • I've hurt someone I care about.
  • I don't deserve forgiveness.
  • How can I make amends for my mistake?
  • I hate myself for what I've done.

Atmosphere of Remorse

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

  • Choose a setting that is somber or melancholic, such as a cemetery, a rainy day, or a dark alley.
  • Use imagery that reflects the character's feelings of guilt, such as the sound of a mournful song, the sight of wilted flowers, or the smell of burnt offerings.
  • Show the character's physical reactions to their remorse, such as trembling, tears, or clenching their fists.
  • Have the character interact with their surroundings in a way that highlights their regret, such as kneeling down in front of a grave or throwing away a personal item.
  • Use the weather or nature to reflect the character's emotional state, such as a storm brewing or leaves falling from a tree.
  • Create a sense of isolation or loneliness to emphasize the character's feelings of regret, such as having them stand alone in an empty street or sit in a dark room by themselves.

Verbs Associated with Remorse

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

  • Regret
  • Repent
  • Apologize
  • Confess
  • Admit
  • Mourn
  • Lament
  • Bemoan
  • Rue
  • Wail
  • Weep
  • Sorrow
  • Feel contrite
  • Feel guilty

Emotions Before Remorse

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

  • Guilt
  • Regret
  • Shame
  • Embarrassment
  • Disappointment
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Betrayal

Emotions After Remorse

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

  • Regret
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Self-blame
  • Sadness
  • Despair
  • Disappointment
  • Anguish
  • Sorrow
  • Melancholy
  • Contrition
  • Penitence
  • Humility
  • Atonement

Telling Remorse Examples to Avoid

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

  • She felt remorseful for what she had done.
  • He regretted his actions and felt remorseful.
  • She felt a deep sense of remorse for her mistakes.
  • He was filled with remorse over the consequences of his choices.
  • She couldn't shake the feeling of remorse that weighed heavily on her.
  • He acknowledged his mistake and felt remorseful for the pain he had caused.
  • She knew she had made a mistake and felt remorse for her actions.
  • He couldn't help but feel remorseful for his careless behavior.
  • She was consumed by remorse and couldn't stop dwelling on her mistakes.

Practical Examples of Showing Remorse

Here are some examples of showing remorse in a sentence:

  • She avoided looking at the photo album, knowing that each page would bring a fresh wave of pain.
  • He kept replaying the conversation in his head, wishing he could take back the hurtful words he had said.
  • The weight of her mistake hung heavy on her shoulders, making it hard to even get out of bed in the morning.
  • He found himself apologizing again and again, even though he knew it was too late to make things right.

Exercises for Showing Remorse

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing remorse:

  • Think about a time when you felt remorseful. What triggered this feeling, and how did you react to it? Write a scene where your character experiences a similar situation, and explore how they respond.
  • Create a backstory for your character that includes a significant event they regret. Write a scene that shows how this event has affected them and how they still carry the weight of their mistake.
  • Write a dialogue between your character and someone they have wronged. Explore the emotions that arise in your character as they try to make amends and seek forgiveness.
  • Use sensory details to convey the physical and emotional sensations of remorse. Describe how your character's body feels (e.g., heavy chest, tight throat), and how they perceive the world around them (e.g., dull colors, heavy atmosphere).
  • Experiment with different writing styles and perspectives to convey remorse. For example, try writing in the first person to get inside your character's head, or write from a distance to show how others perceive your character's remorse.
  • Consider how your character's remorse affects their relationships with others. Write a scene where they struggle to connect with someone because of their guilt, or where they lash out in anger because of their shame.

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

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