Show Emotion. Show Reaction. Show Meaning.

Say what?

Say what?

A few days ago my editor sent me back the revisions to my second book “I Won’t Cry”. It was filled with suggestions and most of them included showing the reactions of my characters and the emotion they are experiencing.

I added all the emotion and reaction that I muster up and it made a huge difference in my novel. It added meaning. It wasn’t just a this happen, then this, then this. It became a story.

I want to give you tips to show the same great emotion and reaction in your own story.


It’s all about the reader and the experience they have reading your book.They want to feel something. They want to go somewhere in your book and not just read a plot without any feeling in it.

Show Emotion.

You want your reader to know how your characters feel in whatever situation they’re in. If they’re in a scary situation like a robbery you can show fear by showing your character shaking, teeth chattering and goose bumps, for example. The point is to show some kind of emotion for your characters when they are put in a situation that evokes that emotion.

Show Reaction.

When something traumatic, dramatic or important happens in your story show your character’s reaction to it. Don’t just let them go with the flow and move the story forward too soon. Show little Timmy crunching his face in disgust after hearing his mother tells him to eat peas. Or show Mrs. Waterstone stutter with her words after hearing she won employee of the year at her company.

Did your character just win an Oscar? Show their stunned silence.

When something happens to your characters show their reaction. It’s another experience for your reader.

Show Meaning.

I think every story has a meaning and it’s an important thing to have in every story. A point.

You can bring this to your characters and everything that happens to them. When something happens to your characters or they experience something, showing what it means will help the reader understand your story a lot better.

Don’t assume your reader will be able to piece all the puzzle together without being told where the pieces are.

I’m not saying you have to explain every little thing blankly but I am suggesting you don’t leave your reader hanging in confusion or wonder what something means.  Yes, we writers love to throw in symbols and deeper meaning things that our readers dig up but everything still needs a purpose. A purpose that serves the story as a whole.

If your protagonist lost their job in one scene and in the next scene they’re walking down the street barefoot, there some information the reader is missing. Sure, you can assume they infer what happens but a lot of things can happen to someone who lost their job and then is shown walking barefoot. It helps to summarize that the character went in debt, lost their house, wife, kids, and got chased by a dog who ate his shoes. Ah ha!

When your reader knows why something happen then they are more pulled into the story instead of flicking back pages to see if they missed anything.


I hope this helps you to write your novel. Please tell me what you think is a good way to show character emotion and reaction.


Photo credit: Edyta Pawlowska


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About the Author

Shaquanda Dalton

Hello, my name is Shaquanda Dalton and welcome to! I'm from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graudated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in Creative Writing. I fell in love with writing at the age nine and love it till this day. :)