Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Sadness

Emotion Sadness

When you want to write the emotion sadness, 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 showing instead of telling and immerse your readers in your story.

Sadness is a natural human emotion that is typically characterized by feelings of sorrow, disappointment, and despair. It can be triggered by various events, such as loss, rejection, failure, or separation from loved ones. People experiencing sadness may display physical symptoms such as tears, lethargy, and loss of appetite. It is important to note that sadness is a normal and healthy emotion that everyone experiences from time to time, and it can even be a source of inspiration for creative writing.

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

Different Types of Sadness

Here are some different types of sadness:

  • Grief: Deep sadness that results from a significant loss, such as the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship.
  • Melancholy: A pensive or reflective sadness, often accompanied by a feeling of longing or nostalgia.
  • Sorrow: A feeling of sadness or regret, often caused by a specific event or situation.
  • Despair: A sense of hopelessness or futility, often stemming from a belief that a situation is impossible to improve.
  • Disappointment: A feeling of sadness or frustration when expectations are not met.
  • Heartbreak: A type of emotional pain that results from a romantic or personal rejection or loss.
  • Loneliness: A feeling of sadness or isolation that comes from being alone or feeling disconnected from others.
  • Regret: A sense of sadness or remorse over a past action or decision.
  • Homesickness: A feeling of sadness or longing for one's home or country, often experienced by travelers or expatriates.

Situations Associated with Sadness

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

  • The loss of a loved one or a pet
  • A breakup or divorce
  • Failing to achieve a goal or dream
  • Feeling lonely or isolated
  • Betrayal by a friend or loved one
  • Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event
  • Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
  • Struggling with a chronic illness or disability
  • Feeling unfulfilled in life or career
  • Being bullied or discriminated against
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed of past actions

Physical Reactions to Sadness

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

  • Drooping or slumped posture
  • Slow or lethargic movements
  • Tired or puffy eyes
  • Frowning or downturned lips
  • Crying or tearing up
  • Lack of eye contact or avoiding others
  • Withdrawal or isolation from social situations
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Low energy or lack of motivation
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Sighing or deep breaths
  • Speaking softly or in a monotone voice
  • Lack of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Negativity or pessimism

Thoughts Associated with Sadness

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing sadness might have:

  • I can't stop crying, everything feels so heavy.
  • Why do I even bother trying? Nothing ever works out.
  • I feel so alone, like nobody understands me.
  • I miss them so much, it hurts to think about them.
  • I don't know how to move on from this pain.
  • What's the point of anything if I can't even feel happy?
  • I feel like a burden to everyone around me.
  • I wish I could turn back time and change things.
  • I don't know how to cope with this overwhelming feeling.

Atmosphere of Sadness

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

  • Use pathetic fallacy to reflect the character's mood: for example, rain or grey skies can reflect sadness
  • Use desolate or abandoned settings to create a sense of isolation and loneliness
  • Use dim lighting or shadows to create a somber atmosphere
  • Use cold or stark environments to create a sense of emptiness and melancholy
  • Use muted or subdued colors to reflect a lack of energy or enthusiasm
  • Use quiet or empty spaces to create a sense of emptiness or loss
  • Use reflective surfaces, such as mirrors or water, to create a sense of introspection and contemplation

Verbs Associated with Sadness

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

  • Weep
  • Mourn
  • Sob
  • Lament
  • Grieve
  • Pine
  • Wail
  • Sigh
  • Brood
  • Mope
  • Deplore
  • Despair
  • Sulk
  • Languish

Emotions Before Sadness

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

  • Disappointment
  • Frustration
  • Regret
  • Loneliness
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Anxiety

Emotions After Sadness

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

  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Disappointment
  • Resentment
  • Regret
  • Loneliness
  • Hopelessness
  • Despair
  • Numbness
  • Acceptance

It's important to remember that emotions are complex and can overlap or lead to other emotions. Additionally, not everyone will experience the same emotions in the same order or intensity. As a writer, it's important to consider your character's unique experiences and personality when exploring their emotional journey.

Telling Sadness Examples to Avoid

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

  • She was feeling sad.
  • He looked sad.
  • She had a sad expression on her face.
  • He spoke in a sad tone.
  • She felt a deep sadness inside.
  • He was filled with sadness.
  • She couldn't shake off the feeling of sadness.
  • He was struggling with his sadness.
  • She was overwhelmed by sadness.
  • He was trying to hide his sadness.

Remember, it's usually more effective to show rather than tell emotions in your writing.

Practical Examples of Showing Sadness

Here are some examples of showing sadness in a sentence:

  • She stared out the window, watching the raindrops slide down the glass, her shoulders slumped.
  • He lay in bed, curled up under the blankets, tears streaming down his face.
  • The room was quiet except for the sound of her sniffles and the occasional sigh.
  • She hugged her knees to her chest, her eyes red and puffy from crying.

Exercises for Showing Sadness

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing sadness:

  • Write a scene where the character is in their bedroom, alone, and crying. Explore what they're thinking and feeling as they cry.
  • Imagine a memory from the character's past that still brings them pain. Write a flashback scene that shows this memory and how it affects their current behavior.
  • Write a scene where the character receives bad news. This could be anything from a breakup to a rejection letter. Show how they react in the moment and how they process the news afterwards.
  • Write a scene where the character is trying to hide their sadness from someone else. This could be a friend, family member, or even a stranger. Show how they try to put on a brave face and what they're really feeling inside.
  • Write a scene where the character is listening to a sad song or watching a sad movie. Explore how this affects their mood and what memories or emotions it brings up for them.

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

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