Anger – a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Usually consisting of a three-part reaction: negative thoughts, frustration, and acting out (screaming, shaking fist, or violence).
Whether it’s in the form of nasty tweets or highly-charged protests, the media and social networks are rampant with demonstrations of anger. And, although most people think anger is a negative and counterproductive emotion – it does have benefits worth noting.
Benefits of Anger to Individuals
- It motivates us.
- Makes us feel more confident.
- Acknowledging anger helps lower stress and pain.
- Expressing anger rather than bottling it up, benefits interpersonal relationships.
- Provides insight if we’re open to looking inward.
- Aids negotiations.
In life, anger isn’t always a bad thing. But, how do we use it in writing? Part of making our characters well-rounded and real, is capturing their emotions – including anger. Anger equals conflict and conflicts move the plot forward.
Reasons Characters get Angry:
Just like us, our characters get angry when they feel helpless, confused, frustrated, jealous, embarrassed, or hurt, to name a few. But, how do we show anger without being melodramatic? First of all, forget the clichés and don’t rely entirely on the actions of the character (remember show don’t tell).
We show anger in the way we speak, the tone of our voice, and body language. Below is a small sample of the ways you can show anger in your characters.
- Stammer with rage
- Speak in grudging tones
Angry Tones of Voice:
- rising an octave
- Tinged with menace
- Dripping with Spite
- Cool, icy
- Voice shaking
- Scorching look
- Eyes narrowing with contempt
- Withering stare
- Regard bitterly
- Warning look
- Eyes that are cold
- Nostrils flaring
- jaw clenching
- Eyebrows drawing together
- Reddened face
Other Body Expressions:
- Clenching fists
- Punching, kicking, throwing
- Body tense
- Veins visibly pulsing
- Breathing deeply
- Muscles quivering
- Slamming doors, etc.
For more on how to write about anger, check out these resources:
- 37 Ways To Write About Anger by Amanda Patterson
- Creating Emotional Frustration in Your Characters
- Emotional Rollercoaster: Writing Anger by Apryl Duncan
- The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression
- The Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters 1st edition by Marc McCutcheon
Anger is one of those emotions that make us uncomfortable, but it is an essential component of who we are and thus your characters.
How do you show anger in your characters?