It can be difficult to write about a worried character. They don’t always show their worries on the surface and may not even know what’s going on themselves. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a believable and compelling character who worries all the time. In this post, we’ll show you the best way to create a worried character and how to make them feel real to your readers in your creative writing.
Characters Are Worried for a Reason – Give Readers a Glimpse
When writing about a character who worries, it’s important to give your readers some insight into why they worry. Otherwise, the worry may come across as unfounded or irrational.
So how do you describe worry in a way that’s both believable and understandable?
One way is to focus on the physical sensations of worry. This includes things like a racing heart, sweaty palms, or butterflies in the stomach. These physical reactions can be triggered by a variety of things, such as anticipation of a future event or memories of a past event.
- By describing the physical sensations of worry, you can help your readers understand and sympathize with your character’s inner turmoil.
- Another way to describe worry is to focus on the thought process itself. What goes through someone’s mind when they feel anxious or stressed? Often, worry is based on irrational thoughts or fears. This can mean thinking an upcoming event is catastrophic or thinking about a past mistake. By showing how these thoughts contribute to the feelings of worry, you can help your readers understand the person’s mental state.
Show How the Character’s Worry Impacts Their Actions
All characters face worry or stress in their lives, and these worries can greatly affect the way they think, speak, and act. As a writer, it’s important to capture this sense of worry in your writing to create fully developed and believable characters.
One way to show how worry affects a character is through their thoughts. A character who worries may be thinking about it constantly, even when she should be focusing on something else.
In their mind, thoughts circle around the worst-case scenario, or they replay past events over and over again, trying to find a clue as to what went wrong. This preoccupation with worry can lead to insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Another way to show how worry affects a person is through their words. A worried person may speak faster than usual, or they may stumble over their words and stutter.
They may also have difficulty concentrating on a conversation and may digress and worry in the middle of a sentence.
In addition, a person who worries may blurt out things they wouldn’t normally say – they may say something that gives too much away, or they may make a raunchy joke. This kind of behavior says a lot about a character’s personality and state of mind.
Characters who worry often worry about what if.
- What if I’m not good enough?
- What if I’m not prepared?
- What if I fail?
This way of thinking leads to a sense of fear and unease that can be conveyed by both the person’s thoughts and actions. Social anxiety can be a big part of what is going on.
For example, a person who’s worried about an upcoming exam might be pacing, biting their nails, or having difficulty concentrating. By showing how worry affects a character’s thoughts, words, and actions, you can give readers a deeper understanding of the character’s motivations and fears.
Plus, this attention to detail can help make the story more believable and realistic.
Show the Character’s Innermost Thoughts and Fears About Their Worry
When you’re writing about worry, it’s important to portray the character’s innermost thoughts and fears.
One way to do this is to use descriptive language.
For example, instead of simply saying, “I’m worried about the upcoming exam,” the person might say, “I’m scared about the upcoming exam. What if I fail it? Then I’ll never graduate.” This wording helps build a picture of the person’s emotional state and allows readers to empathize with their fears.
It’s also important to show how the person is dealing with her worries. Does she try to distract herself? Does she allow the worries to consume her? A person may deal with their worries in a variety of ways, such as excessive drinking, drug use, or long, hot showers.
By showing both the emotion itself and the character’s reaction to it, you can give readers a deeper understanding of what their worries feel like.
Body language can be a powerful way to show fear and anxiety. Shaking hands, for example, can convey a sense of fear or foreboding. Hunched shoulders, furrowed brows, pacing, and clenched fists are also signs of worry. A clenched jaw and teeth grinding are also signs of stress.
Inner monologs can reveal a person’s deepest fears and worries. Finally, thoughts about the future can show how a person’s worries affect their decisions.
One way to show a character’s innermost thoughts and fears is to have them keep a diary, as was done brilliantly in Bridget Jones’s Diary, for example.
Worry in the Eyes
When you’re writing about characters who’re worried, it can be helpful to describe their eyes. This is because the eyes are often a telltale sign of worry, stress, or anxiety.
For example, someone who’s worried may look around the room with wide eyes, trying to see all possible dangers.
Or the pupils may be dilated, making the eyes appear larger than usual.
Also, the person may blink more often than usual to prevent their eyes from drying out from stress.
Eyebrows may be drawn together and the skin between them may be wrinkled.
Another way to show worry is squinted eyes. This can convey suspicion or alertness as if the person is trying to assess a situation or a person.
With anxiety symptoms like this, you can help readers understand how the person is feeling and why they’re behaving in certain ways.
Worry in the Voice
One way to show that a character is worried is through their dialog. Concerned characters often speak quickly, use filler words, or stumble over their words as a vocal mirror of their negative thoughts.
You can also have them stumble over their words or hesitate in the middle of a sentence. Another way to show worry in the voice is to have the character’s pitch rise, either because they’re panicking or because they’re trying to sound more convincing.
Finally, you can make the character’s voice tremble or quiver as an anxious thought crosses their mind, which expresses both fear and uncertainty.
You Need the Backstory
It’s important that you know the backstory well in your writing process. This is because worry usually arises from some kind of conflict or problem.
To portray worry convincingly in your writing, you need to be able to show how the conflict or problem has affected your character.
- What’s at stake?
- What’s your character’s goal?
- And what’s she afraid of losing?
Here are some things to keep in mind as you flesh out the backstory of a character who’s worried:
- How did the conflict or problem arise?
- What’s the cause of the character’s stress?
- What’re the consequences of failure?
- What’s your character’s goal?
- What’s your character’s greatest fear?
Answering these questions will help you create a well-rounded and believable character who’s real concerns. If you know the backstory well, you can write about worry in a way that’s relatable and compelling.
What Worry Feels Like Inside
Here’s how someone might describe being worried:
Some days it’s hard to focus on anything but worry. It’s like a storm cloud hovering over your head, casting a shadow over everything else in your life.
When you worry, it feels like your mind is stuck in a loop of anxious thoughts. You feel tense and nervous, or you feel like you can’t focus on anything else. Your heart might be racing and you might start to sweat. You might even feel like you’re going to throw up or have a panic attack.
All of these physical symptoms can make it hard for you to think clearly or calm down. Worry can also affect your sleep, so you end up feeling not only anxious but exhausted.
Worry is all-consuming and can’t be shaken off. Your stomach is in knots and you can barely catch your breath.
Every little sound feels like it’s multiplying tenfold, and you can’t sit still. You pace back and forth, rock back and forth, or wrap your hair around your finger obsessively.
You might even start picking at your skin or biting your nails.
All you can think about is what could go wrong and how disastrous the consequences could be.
It can feel like your thoughts are spinning out of control. You may feel like you can’t turn your brain off.
It’s a stressful way to live, but it’s hard to see a way out when worry has such a tight grip on you.