Something I do is make notes about what I’m feeling to refer to later when a character has a certain emotion, and I try to think about all the senses, no matter how stereotypical you think a description is. It the end, this will help give you rawer descriptions of what different scenarios feel like, and if you note it while you’re going through it. Let’s use this example, and what to do with it since there are some commonly used descriptions:
Breathing feels difficult
Taking a breath in hurts
Achy from crying
Like something is squeezing your heart and trying to rip it out
Trying to imagine the world without that person is impossible
Tired, but unable to sleep
Eating causes stomach, then nausea
Feeling disconnected from body
Feel unable to move sometimes, frozen
Entire face, especially teeth, throbbing while and after crying
Confused about basic things, like the date
Waking up crying, hyperventilate until back to sleep
One nostril clear, the other stuffy but runny
We all know about the heart-punch feeling, but have you ever felt like your body is on autopilot and you can’t feel your fingers because your brain just isn’t there? Or had your back and chest muscles ache from the force of crying? Or the throbbing teeth? You probably have, then don’t consciously remember.
When going through something hard, it also lets you go into some denial about what’s happening. Suddenly it’s like a bit of research.
Then I compile papers for each type of emption, mark off the common things written down, and look at the ones I only described once. Those are more likely to be words not seen much, and that do more than the stereotypical terms:
She felt like her heart was being ripped out of her. It all seemed so wrong
Sure, I guess.
Her face throbbed from the force of her tears, tears that escaped so rapidly and profusely that her back hurt from the effort of trying to keep her upright instead of letting her crumple to the floor. The back of her hand wiped one stuffy, yet runny, nostril. Breath. She had to remind herself to just breath.
Okay, not the greatest example, but I am sitting here in mourning with tears clogging my vision. Didn’t need the commonly used heart-ripped-out, and you know more about just how much crying she’s done. Whether you’re describing an emption or an experience, look into yourself while going through your feelings.
If anything in this doesn’t make sense, it’s because this is being typed from a cafe while I’m actively in mourning.