Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Vulnerability

Emotion Vulnerability

When you want to write the emotion vulnerability, 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.

Vulnerability is the state of being exposed to emotional or physical harm, or the feeling of being open or defenseless. It is a complex emotion that can be difficult to express, but it is an important part of human experience and can add depth and authenticity to fictional characters. Vulnerability can manifest in many different ways, from showing fear or sadness to being open and honest about one's weaknesses and insecurities. It often involves a sense of risk or uncertainty, and can be a powerful tool for writers looking to create relatable and memorable characters.

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

Different Types of Vulnerability

Here are some different types of vulnerability:

  • Fear of rejection or abandonment
  • Self-doubt or insecurity
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Intimacy issues or fear of being hurt
  • Feeling exposed or uncomfortable
  • Sensitivity to criticism or judgment
  • Inability to trust others
  • Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
  • Loneliness or isolation

Situations Associated with Vulnerability

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

  • Loss of a loved one or a relationship
  • Being betrayed or let down by someone they trusted
  • Failing to achieve an important goal or aspiration
  • Facing a difficult decision or making a mistake
  • Being in a new or unfamiliar environment
  • Being physically or emotionally hurt or injured
  • Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities or expectations
  • Experiencing a traumatic event or abuse
  • Feeling powerless or helpless in a situation

Physical Reactions to Vulnerability

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

  • Averting eye contact or avoiding it altogether
  • Slouched posture or closed off body language
  • Wrapping arms around oneself or hugging oneself
  • Speaking in a hushed tone or with a shaky voice
  • Fidgeting or playing with objects
  • Tears or crying
  • Admitting personal flaws or weaknesses
  • Sharing personal stories or experiences
  • Seeking comfort or reassurance from others

Thoughts Associated with Vulnerability

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing vulnerability might have:

  • I feel exposed and defenseless.
  • Why am I so weak and powerless right now?
  • I wish I could hide and protect myself from any potential harm.
  • I'm afraid of being hurt or rejected.
  • I don't want to show my weaknesses to anyone.
  • I feel like I'm at the mercy of others.
  • What if someone sees through my façade and realizes I'm not as strong as I pretend to be?
  • I feel like I'm walking on eggshells.
  • It's hard to trust anyone when I feel so vulnerable.

Atmosphere of Vulnerability

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

  • Choose a setting that is intimate, such as a bedroom or a small, secluded space. This can create a sense of privacy and safety, which can encourage characters to reveal their vulnerabilities.
  • Use soft lighting or muted colors to create a sense of warmth and comfort. This can help characters feel more at ease and open up emotionally.
  • Use weather to reflect the character's emotional state. For example, a stormy night can create a sense of danger and uncertainty, while a sunny day can create a feeling of hope and optimism.
  • Use body language and physical cues to show vulnerability. For example, a character may hunch their shoulders or avoid eye contact when feeling vulnerable.
  • Use dialogue to convey vulnerability. Characters may speak in a softer tone or use hesitant language when revealing their innermost thoughts and feelings.
  • Use music or sound effects to create a certain mood. Soft, melancholy music can evoke feelings of vulnerability and sadness, while upbeat music can create a sense of optimism and hope.

These are just a few examples of how a writer can mirror the emotion of vulnerability with the settings or atmosphere of a scene. Remember, the key is to create an environment that encourages characters to reveal their vulnerabilities and connect with readers on an emotional level.

Verbs Associated with Vulnerability

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

  • Reveal
  • Confess
  • Expose
  • Admit
  • Share
  • Open up
  • Trust
  • Surrender
  • Break down
  • Unmask
  • Disclose
  • Unveil
  • Lay bare
  • Display

Emotions Before Vulnerability

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

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Jealousy
  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Disappointment
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety
  • Insecurity
  • Regret
  • Resentment
  • Envy
  • Betrayal

Emotions After Vulnerability

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

  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Embarrassment
  • Insecurity
  • Anxiety
  • Helplessness
  • Trust
  • Gratitude
  • Love
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Connection
  • Understanding
  • Acceptance

Telling Vulnerability Examples to Avoid

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

  • She felt vulnerable after her breakup.
  • He was vulnerable when he shared his deepest secrets with her.
  • The character was vulnerable when she walked alone at night.
  • The protagonist felt vulnerable when he shared his art with the world.
  • The girl felt vulnerable when she showed her true self to her friends.
  • The hero was vulnerable when he faced his fears.
  • The character was vulnerable after being betrayed by his closest friend.
  • The woman felt vulnerable when she opened up to her therapist.
  • The protagonist was vulnerable when she admitted her true feelings to her love interest.
  • The character felt vulnerable when she was forced to confront her past.

Remember, these sentences are telling the emotion of vulnerability rather than showing it. To create a deeper emotional connection with readers, it's important to show vulnerability through actions, thoughts, and dialogue.

Practical Examples of Showing Vulnerability

Here are some examples of showing vulnerability in a sentence:

  • She couldn't help the tears that welled up in her eyes as she spoke.
  • He fidgeted with his hands, unable to meet her gaze.
  • She wrapped her arms around herself as if trying to protect herself from the world.
  • He stumbled over his words, his voice shaking with emotion.

Exercises for Showing Vulnerability

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing vulnerability:

• Write a scene in which the character overcomes their vulnerability. How do they find the strength to do so? What does this experience teach them?

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

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