Inspiration Decks Emotions 2024-03-14 00:00

Emotion: Wistfulness

Emotion Wistfulness

When you want to write the emotion wistfulness, 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.

Wistfulness is a feeling of melancholy or yearning for something that is no longer present or unattainable. It's a bittersweet emotion that can be triggered by nostalgia or regret for missed opportunities or unfulfilled dreams. Wistfulness can also be a longing for a time or place that is no longer accessible, or a desire for a past experience or relationship that can't be recreated. Overall, wistfulness is a complex emotion that can be both painful and beautiful, and can add depth and authenticity to fictional characters.

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

Different Types of Wistfulness

Here are some different types of wistfulness:

  • Nostalgia for past experiences or memories
  • Longing for a person, place, or time that is no longer accessible or attainable
  • Regret for missed opportunities or unfulfilled dreams
  • Melancholy or sadness for something that has been lost or left behind
  • A sense of yearning for a different life or path not taken
  • A bittersweet feeling of happiness tinged with sorrow or regret

Situations Associated with Wistfulness

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

  • A character may experience wistfulness when reminiscing about a past relationship that ended.
  • They may feel wistful when thinking about a missed opportunity or regretting a decision they made.
  • A character may feel wistful when remembering a happy time that they can never get back.
  • They may experience wistfulness when seeing someone who reminds them of someone they lost.
  • A character may feel wistful when looking at old photographs or mementos that evoke a sense of nostalgia.
  • They may feel wistful when reflecting on the passing of time and how things have changed.
  • A character may experience wistfulness when thinking about childhood memories or experiences.
  • They may feel wistful when visiting a place that holds special meaning to them but has changed over time.

Physical Reactions to Wistfulness

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

  • A distant or faraway look in the eyes
  • A soft and wistful smile
  • Sighing or taking deep breaths
  • Pensive or reflective body language, like leaning on or hugging oneself
  • A tendency to get lost in thoughts or memories
  • Moving slowly or hesitantly
  • A subdued tone of voice or speaking quietly
  • A longing gaze or a wistful stare into the distance
  • Trailing off in conversation, as if lost in thought

Thoughts Associated with Wistfulness

Here are some thoughts a character experiencing wistfulness might have:

  • Remembering past experiences with fondness
  • Longing for something or someone that is no longer present
  • Feeling a sense of regret or nostalgia for missed opportunities
  • Imagining alternative outcomes or different choices that could have been made
  • Feeling a sense of melancholy or sadness tinged with hopefulness
  • Reflecting on how things used to be and how they have changed
  • Feeling a sense of yearning or desire for something that may not be attainable

Atmosphere of Wistfulness

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

  • Use nostalgic objects or artifacts in the setting, such as old photographs, handwritten letters, or vintage furniture.
  • Describe the natural surroundings in a way that evokes a sense of longing or melancholy, such as a misty morning or a sunset over the ocean.
  • Set the scene in a place that holds personal significance to the character, such as a childhood home or a favorite vacation spot.
  • Use sensory details to create a mood, such as the smell of freshly cut grass or the sound of distant music.
  • Include characters who represent the past or who the protagonist has lost touch with, such as a childhood friend or a former lover.
  • Use language that conveys a sense of yearning or regret, such as "what could have been" or "if only."

Verbs Associated with Wistfulness

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

  • Long
  • Yearn
  • Reminisce
  • Pine
  • Lament
  • Regret
  • Nostalgic
  • Brood
  • Mourn
  • Crave
  • Muse
  • Dream
  • Sigh
  • Reflect

Emotions Before Wistfulness

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

  • Longing
  • Nostalgia
  • Sadness
  • Regret
  • Melancholy
  • Disappointment
  • Yearning
  • Sentimentality
  • Remorse

Emotions After Wistfulness

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

  • Nostalgia
  • Longing
  • Regret
  • Melancholy
  • Sadness
  • Reflection
  • Hopefulness
  • Sentimentality
  • Yearning

Telling Wistfulness Examples to Avoid

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

  • She felt wistful as she remembered the good old days.
  • He sat alone, lost in thought, feeling wistful about what could have been.
  • The photograph made her feel wistful, reminding her of a time long gone.
  • Wistfulness overtook her as she watched the sunset, wishing she could freeze the moment.
  • He couldn't help but feel wistful as he drove past his childhood home.
  • She felt a pang of wistfulness as she listened to the nostalgic tune.
  • The abandoned amusement park brought a sense of wistfulness to her heart.
  • Wistfulness crept over him as he realized how much time had passed since they last met.
  • The old love letters made her feel wistful, wondering what could have happened if they stayed together.

Practical Examples of Showing Wistfulness

Here are some examples of showing wistfulness in a sentence:

  • She traced her finger over the faded photograph, remembering the good times they had.
  • The sound of the old song playing on the radio brought back memories she thought she had forgotten.
  • He gazed out the window, lost in thought as he watched the leaves fall from the trees.
  • She smiled sadly as she read the old love letters, wondering what could have been.

Exercises for Showing Wistfulness

Here are some writing exercises to practice showing wistfulness:

  • Write a scene in which your character comes across an old photo album. Have them flip through the pages and describe their reactions to the images they see. What memories does it bring up for them? Do they feel a sense of longing for the past?
  • Have your character visit a place from their childhood that they haven't seen in years. How does it look now? How does it make them feel to see it again? Do they wish they could go back to that time in their life?
  • Write a letter from your character to their younger self. What advice would they give? What memories would they share? What would they want to tell themselves about the future?
  • Have your character attend a reunion or gathering of old friends. How do they feel seeing people they haven't seen in years? Do they feel like they've missed out on anything? Do they feel happy or sad to see how their old friends have changed?

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

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