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All the Feels

It’s typical in stories and manuscripts to use variations on the verb “to feel” to express emotion: He felt mad. I feel scared. But there are much better ways to describe a character's emotional state. Try it with one of these "feeling" prompts. Write a scene based on one of the phrases, allowing the character to express the emotion without using the word feel or felt.

This writing prompt originally appeared in Writer's Digest magazine. Subscribe to discover exercises and prompts in the back of each issue.

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It’s typical in stories and manuscripts to use variations on the verb “to feel” to express emotion: He felt mad. I feel scared. While these practical expressions of feelings are not necessarily bad, you can invite your readers more deeply into the experiences of your characters by demonstrating those feelings.

Try it with one of these "feeling" prompts. Write a scene based on one of the phrases, allowing the character to express the emotion without using the word feel or felt. Or if you'd like, comb through one of your own pieces looking for the words feel or felt and expand on that feeling with more depth. (Hint: Avoid thoughts; stick to action, dialogue and images.)

  • He felt sad to hear the news.
  • She felt angry when he yelled at her.
  • I had never felt so embarrassed before.
  • His expression made her feel afraid.
  • Her words inspired a feeling of dread.
  • I’d never feel joy again.
  • You always feel sick.
  • We never felt loved.

Post your response in the comments below in 500 words or fewer.

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