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Writing Exercise: Hidden Emotions

Updated: 6 days ago

Desperate woman with hands to her face

1) Introduction to the exercise and its purpose:

This writing exercise aims to reinforce the "Show, Don't Tell" technique that is essential for engaging writing. The goal is to learn how to express emotional states, thoughts or character traits through actions, dialogue or elements of context, rather than explicit descriptions. This approach allows the reader to experience the story more intensely and to form his or her own interpretation of narrative dynamics.

2) The situation:

Twenty-three-year-old Laura is in her bedroom shortly after being left by her boyfriend, with whom she had marriage plans. The pain of betrayal and the loss of the relationship have left her in a state of deep despair and confusion.

3) The exercise:

Recount the scene in which Laura processes her grief, but avoid expressing her feelings directly. Show her emotional state through interaction with her surroundings and body language.

4) Suggestions and development of the exercise:

Focus on Laura's sensory details and actions to convey her despair. You can begin by describing the environment: the prevailing clutter in the room, with clothes strewn on the bed, drawers ajar, and a tilted picture on the wall. Laura walks slowly through the room, absentmindedly touching objects, stopping to straighten the painting, then sitting on the edge of the bed staring at the emptiness, or picking up a forgotten sweater and clutching it in her hands as if seeking physical comfort.

After writing the scene, reread it to make sure you have not included direct descriptions of Laura's feelings. Ask a reading partner to interpret Laura's emotional state based only on your descriptions, and adjust the text accordingly to increase clarity and emotional impact without resorting to "telling."


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