Expressing Character’s Emotions: ANGER- Part Two

by Rosemary Wakelin
Short recap of Part One.
  • A character can express anger either passively or aggressively dependent upon their nature.
  • If a character digresses from their true self, ensure their motivation for doing so is plausible.
  • Remember, below are simply suggestions.
  • The secret to effective and clever writing is not to copy ideas but allow those ideas to inspire your own.
Ways Characters Display Anger - Passive
  • Giving the cold shoulder
  • Acting silent; deliberately not speaking
  • Avoiding conflict
  • Displaying phobic or obsessive behaviours e.g. overeating, fanatical cleaning
  • Acting out the victim
  • Seeking a sympathetic ear
  • Pretending to feel unwell
  • Disengaging/withdrawing from conversations and social activities
  • Hiding physical signs like clenching hands and toes
  • Emotional blackmailing
  • Gossiping behind one’s back
  • Using others to do your dirty work
  • Being overly critical of oneself
  • Apologising constantly
  • Continual headaches
I have to say, after re-reading this list, I am certain I have never displayed any one of these traits in my ENTIRE life… NOT!!!!  Of course, I have. I am human. That’s what makes this list plausible. It is how REAL people act.
Love this cartoon, courtesy of Writer’

Don’t we all hate those situations when people give you the SILENT TREATMENT and you don’t even know why? Nasty stuff, heh?  
Time to move on.

Ways Characters Display Anger - aggressive

  • Acting recklessly
  • Acting inappropriately e.g. physically, mentally and verbally abusive, destructive, abusing power
  • Blaming others
  • Acting as if they are better than anyone else
  • Boasting [take your pick from that endless list of things one could boast about!]
  • Being vengeful and punishing others
  • Exploding over small issues
  • Ignoring other people’s feelings
  • Acting vulgarly
Yep, definitely not me!
Even though my husband swears otherwise, [thankfully for just one or two of the above]. I am Scorpio, after all.
Again, moving on.
The following is a list of physical symptoms when one is angry. You decide those denoting aggressive and those denoting passive behaviours.
  • Flaring nostrils
  • Beads of sweat
  • Heightened chin
  • Noisy, heavy breathing
  • Planting legs wide apart
  • Shaking clenched fists
  • Jerky bodily movements
  • Fingers flexing
  • Entering another character’s personal space
  • Face reddens, lips curl
  • Fingernails dig into one’s palm
  • Pounding fists against… well, against anything you want reallywall, sofa, an already mangled picture of one’s ex-boss. Joking!
  • Punching, kicking, stomping, throwing
  • Veins pulsating, throbbing in the neck
  • Drawing in slow, steady breaths
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Face muscles twitching
  • Sharp edged laughter
  • Raised, shaking voice
  • Pulsating heartbeat, grinding teeth, body flushes
  • Skin itchy, burning… as if bitten by a thousand, crawling, ravenous insects, searching for….
Hmmm, possibly good spot to leave you and wish you well in your own creative journeys.


This is great and really helpful for writers like me who gets stuck trying to find a creative way to express the same emotion. Anger invariably comes up as one of those that has me digging deep.