How to Show Anger in Your Characters

hqdefault-2Daily Post Prompt:  Angry

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

  1. It motivates us.
  2. Makes us feel more confident.
  3. Acknowledging anger helps lower stress and pain.
  4. Expressing anger rather than bottling it up, benefits interpersonal relationships.
  5. Provides insight if we’re open to looking inward.
  6. 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.MAXINE1131313

Angry Speech:

  • Stammer with rage
  • Taunt
  • Sputter
  • Scream
  • Speak in grudging tones
  • Sarcasm

Angry Tones of Voice:

  • Strained
  • rising an octave
  • Tinged with menace
  • Dripping with Spite
  • Cool, icy
  • Voice shaking

Facial Expressions:

  • Scorching look
  • Eyes narrowing with contempt
  • Withering stare
  • Regard bitterly
  • Warning look
  • Glower
  • Eyes that are cold
  • Nostrils flaring
  • jaw clenching
  • Eyebrows drawing together
  • Reddened face

Other Body Expressions:

  • Clenching fists
  • Stomping
  • 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:

  1. 37 Ways To Write About Anger by Amanda Patterson
  2. Creating Emotional Frustration in Your Characters61zuks2byenl-_sx348_bo1204203200_
  3. Emotional Rollercoaster: Writing Anger by Apryl Duncan
  4. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression
  5. The Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters 1st edition by Marc McCutcheon 51pt853khal-_ac_ul480_sr312480_

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?

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram.

23 thoughts on “How to Show Anger in Your Characters

  1. “How do I show anger? Well. Let me tell you. First thing I do… you know what? It doesn’t matter. All this talk off anger has gotten me… I just… seriously. You had to pick anger? I just don’t have time for this right now. So if you need me, I’ll be… somewhere else.” He said, then stormed out of the room.

    As you can see, short sentences mingled with the ellipses to create tension in the speech gives the same indication without resorting to tags or blocking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Change Does Not Happen Overnight | COW PASTURE CHRONICLES

    • I actually hadn’t thought about it. As I find writing resources or learn things that help me, I try to share them with my readers. I do a series, You Asked the Experts Answer, where I take questions, do the research and try and provide the best answers and resources. You check some of those out on the tab at the top of my blog. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading and commenting. It’s always a pleasure to see you in the Cow Pasture.


  3. Great post, Sheila. I sometimes find it challenging to convey a character’s emotion whether it be anger, hurt feeling, or something else. This is a great list and thanks for the resources too. I’ll hang onto this.

    Liked by 1 person

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