1. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    How to describe a strong feeling

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Stammis, Mar 5, 2016.

    How would you describe the feeling when someone you love suddenly gets furious at you; your heart beats faster and you start hyperventilating?
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It would depend on the context, of course. But if this is a face-to-face confrontation, the person who is getting told off may feel a sense of shock—especially if they didn't expect this reaction, or thought the reaction would be milder. Their brain will stop functioning normally, and may go into momentary denial mode.

    Whatever your character's modes of dealing with unpleasantness will surface, at least till they get a grip on the situation.

    If they usually slink away from confrontations, that might be their initial impulse. They don't necessarily have to actually slink away, but they might want to.

    Before the fact sinks in that this person they love IS really angry at them, they might treat the outburst as funny, or not serious. They might attempt to deflect the anger with humour. (Not usually a good move!)

    They might simply go quiet and unresponsive, simply because that's what shock does to people.

    I think it also matters whether the character deserves the anger or not. If the lover is angry because they've been misinformed, then I imagine your character's first reaction would be to explain the situation. If the character has no idea why the lover is angry, they would probably ask what happened. However, if the lover is justifiably angry at something the character actually DID do—and the character knows it—that's not so easy.

    I'd steer away from heart beating faster, hyperventilating, and all that sort of thing. Not only does it border on cliché, but doesn't really involve the character in the actual reaction. The character is probably not saying to himself, 'gee my heart rate has gone up, and I'm hyperventilating.'

    Focus on what that character IS actually thinking and feeling. What do their thoughts and feelings actually make them do? I'd get innovative here. Pretend that somebody YOU love has suddenly lost the rag with you, or has suddenly gone very cold or sarcastic. What would your reaction be? Not what your body does to get you into fight or flight mode, but what would YOU actually do next? You, as a person. I think that will get you what you need to know.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
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  3. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Very nice answer! I should have of course described the scenario, sorry about that.

    So the short version is that there are two sisters, one being angry at the other, slams the door on her sister's face as she tries to comfort her. She stands by the door, alone, and stares blindly in shock, while breathing heavily. I cannot come up with a good description, except perhaps that her breath is stuck in her throat, or something. She doesn't confront her angry sister after that and walks away.

    PS: I think it is important to note that the angry sister has been sad for a while, but the other sister hasn't been unable to cheer her up as she blames the other sister for her distress.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure how much 'shock' comes into this, if the one sister has been angry at the other for a while. In fact, it's probably not a shock at all. That doesn't mean it's not upsetting to the person who is rejected, though. Pretend you're in her position. Your sister has just opened the door then slammed it in your face.

    Was anything said? What was the sister hoping to say when she knocked on the door? What are her feelings as she walks away? Did she stand for a few moments, hoping the sister would reconsider and open the door? Did she listen to hear if anything was happening on the other side? She might take deep breaths to keep from starting to cry, but that will be something she does deliberately. She won't be measuring her heart rate.

    Does she just give up? Has this been happening so many times that she has run out of ideas? Or does she walk away thinking 'I'll give her 5 minutes and try again,' or 'I'll write a letter and stick it under the door if she won't listen to me,' or maybe get somebody else to intercede? She might feel so sad or frustrated that she just goes out and mows the lawn or does something to take her mind off the situation, or give herself some time to think of another approach.

    Again, a lot depends on context and personality. Just try to envision the situation as if you were in her shoes. How would you feel and what would you want to do next?
     
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  5. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Yes! that's exactly it! she breathes heavily to keep her emotions down. Thank you!
     
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