Random Topics to Write About Include Characters’ Emotions

Emotion cartoon woman

Dialogue goes a long way when writing a novel or short story. However, showing a character’s emotion will add depth to your writing and will alleviate the heavy burden of crafting a story using dialogue alone. In this article about Random Topics to Write About, we will study the different categories of emotion and how emotion is shown in writing.

There is power in emotion and when it is shown to the reader through characterization on a page, this power manifests as instant relatability:

All successful novels, no matter what genre, have one thing in common: emotion. It lies at the core of every character’s decision, action, and word, all of which drive the story. Without emotion, a character’s personal journey is pointless. States cease to exist. The plot line becomes a dry riverbed of meaningless events that no reader will take time to read. (Ackerman and Puglisi 1)

In other words, your story will lose its steam if not charged with the literary device of emotion.

The Following Emotion Examples Are Valuable When You Craft Random Topics to Write About

Artsy man writing

Learning about nonverbal communication is crucial for understanding people's emotions and intentions. The following emotion descriptions comprise only a partial list.

Amazement is shown by an individual's wide-open eyes, raised eyebrows, and an uncontrollable utterance, such as a gasp, at a sudden shock. An individual’s sudden focus may cause her to stop in mid-step. She may cover her mouth with her hand, move closer to the object of interest, and smile widely. 

Angered man

 Anger is a strong emotion that signals strong displeasure. Its powerful effect is unmistakable. You may notice a vein in his head that pulses or becomes engorged. He sweats; his nostrils flare; his fists are clenched, and his focus is glazed. Further, he has protruding eyes, brows that are furrowed, and his body takes on an aggressive stance. He may even kick, punch, and throw things.

Curious woman

Curiosity can be shown by one who has an intense focus on an object or individual and is eager to discover more. She may also lean in closer to her object of interest. She may have a head tilt and exhibit the following behaviors: eavesdropping, being still to focus more, and straining to hear.

Desperation is a feeling of hopelessness. It can be detected in a person who paces, has eyes that dart about seeking answers, has repetitive movements, rocks, shakes, bites the bottom lip, and rubs self for comfort. She may also wring her hands and sigh often.

Envy, known as the green-eyed monster, describes one who feels someone or something has an advantage over her, and she wants that advantage. She will likely display these behaviors: flaring of the nostrils, averting her eyes, having a non-too-friendly attitude, mirroring the behavior of the one she envies, sweaty palms, stalking the object, and glowering. 

Fear is a primal emotion where an individual feels he is in imminent danger. He displays wide-eyed horror, a face that changes color (white, ashen, or pallid), and self-hugging behavior. He may also look behind himself frequently, flinch at the slightest noise, exhibit a tense body, a readiness for fight or flight, rapid eye blinking, and uncontrollable trembling.

Guilty woman

 Guilt is an internalized emotion where one feels she is to blame for an occurrence. This can be real or imagined. Guilt can be detected in people's nonverbal behavior, such as avoiding eye contact, forcing a smile, fidgeting, biting one's lips, rubbing the nose or ears, keeping aloof, closing self off to appear smaller, and in many cases, adopting an overly defensive attitude when confronted.

Hopefulness, a more uplifting emotion, is particularly evident in the individual's bearing and demeanor. This sentiment can be recognized in a person's relaxed body posture, a dreamy look in their eyes, a warm, genuine smile, as well as a resilient and upbeat energy, even in the face of adversity.

Man in love

 Love is a profound and powerful emotion that shows deep attachment or devotion. It is easily perceived through nonverbal communication. Soft gazes, leaning toward the person of affection, prolonged and warm physical contact, mimicking the other person's body language, and a glow in the individual are all hallmarks of this emotion. Intriguingly, the language of love can often be spoken more eloquently in silence.

Worried woman

 Worry is a state of unease about the future. The individual may dwell on the possibility of certain deleterious events. Worry is indicated in nonverbal communication by the wrinkling of the brow, biting one’s lip, a downturned mouth, eyebrows that are drawn together, clinging to loved ones, stooped posture, and a pained or watery gaze. The individual also is prone to pacing, biting the nails, cracking the knuckles, and looking small.

Understanding the depth of nonverbal communication not only helps us empathize better with others but also adds richness to our emotional expression. After all, isn't it fascinating that such a wide array of emotions and sentiments can be conveyed completely without words?

Here are a few more nonverbal communication examples when considering random topics to write about:

  • Confusion
  • Defensiveness
  • Embarrassment 
  • Frustration
  • Gratitude 
  • Hatred 
  • Impatience
  • Indifference
  • Loneliness
  • Nervousness
  • Nostalgia
  • Paranoia
  • Pride
  • Rage
  • Regret
  • Skepticism
  • Suspicion

Find many more of these emotions on Amazon in the book The Emotion Thesaurus.

When Exploring Random Topics to Write About, 
Beware of Using Clichés to Express Emotion

Ice cold hands

Hands as cold as ice

It’s easy to let clichés slip into your writing when writing a character's emotions as well as providing narration. Clichés are overused phrases and will bore your readers. They’ve heard them all before and are looking for something fresh in writing. Further, clichés show that you’ve taken the lazy and unimaginative way out. Now and then, clichés can be used to emphasize a point like no other, but they must be used sparingly.

Examples of clichés:

  • As high as a kite 
  • As hard as a rock 
  • As white as a ghost 
  • As flat as a pancake 
  • Sleeping like a baby
  • As straight as an arrow
  • The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
  • Throwing the baby out with the bathwater 
  • She felt the hairs rise on the back of her neck 
Blind cave bat

Blind as a cave bat

Think of clichés you’ve used or know about, and for the most part, avoid them. While imaginative phases are longer and take more thought and time than the use of a quick cliché, they are worth the effort in producing the magic of imagination.

When crafting random topics to write about, avoiding the use of clichés in your writing, and focusing on your characters’ emotions, your stories will come alive and gain a rightful place in the hearts of your readers.

Images created with Dream by Wombo

Ackerman, Angela, and Becca Puglisi. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. The Authors, 2012.