Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

When a person receives very shocking information and is overwhelmed (1 Viewer)

Status
Not open for further replies.

alpacinoutd

Senior Member
Hello all.

I'm writing a scene in which a character receives very shocking and overwhelming information out of nowhere and I want that to be reflected in his facial expression.

In my mind, I can imagine the reaction and how the facial expression would change, but I can't quite put it into words.

This is the scene:

Michael stood motionless in front the cabinet, his eyes scanning the shelves, searching for the saltshaker. Jannet [his sister] stepped into the kitchen, went straight to a shelf on his right, fished out the saltshaker and handed it to him.

"There! Thanks sis," he said, sitting down at the table. He was putting salt on his food when Jannet sat across from him.

"Mike, We need to talk. It's about mom."

"Yeah? Did you snitch on me like the old days? I told you I need more time but I will work it out with Nicole. Mom knows about it. Are you jealous that I'm in a relationship and you are not?" Michael chuckled.

Jannet looked at him with an inscrutable expression on her face, shaking her head.

Michael began rubbing his chin. "You don't look so good, Jan. What's up? Are you really that jealous?"

"Mom died a few hours ago. Heart attack."

His hand stopped on his chin. The faint chuckled vanished and his eyebrows crumpled. Horror swept his eyes and he gulped. He stared at Jannet for several seconds. "No. No. How can that be?"

I need to make the red part better to show how that person is shocked and overwhelmed.
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
I'm writing a scene in which a character receives very shocking and overwhelming information out of nowhere and I want that to be reflected in his facial expression.

In my mind, I can imagine the reaction and how the facial expression would change, but I can't quite put it into words.

[...]

His hand stopped on his chin. The faint chuckled vanished and his eyebrows crumpled. Horror swept his eyes and he gulped. He stared at Jannet for several seconds. "No. No. How can that be?"

I need to make the red part better to show how that person is shocked and overwhelmed.
Well, were this me, I'd remember and catalogue my own experiences being shocked by overwhelming news.

And I'd remember, from my own voluminous and promiscuous reading, similar situations expressed by other authors. (Dennis Lehane, "Mystic River," the character Jimmy Marcus, hearing his daughter Katie has been murdered, snaps instantly to mind. And makes me shiver.)

Then I'd filter all that me-me-me drek through my character's likely response, given whom I've created them to be. All the while remembering they are absolutely of-me but absolutely not-me.)

(I mean, from the outside, character Alice Morgan is going to respond much differently than character Alice Nelson.)

Also, reading back over this all, I'd recognize there's the matter of experience. Someone who has received "shock" often, and who remains functional, will not go through all of these with the same timeframe and intensity. Coping mechanisms kick in.

My catalogue

The first response is rejection. This new fact cannot (must not) be. "No," in some form, vocal, physical. Complete rejection.

Then time stops. Because the next moment is impossible. Immobility. Speechlessness. A sense of unreality. There's no place to go. The universe has forked making the once one many. Where am I?

Then physical collapse. Because I cannot be here. Can't hold the phone. Can't keep standing. Dropping of everything held. Unseeing of everything seen. A slump to the floor. Not a blackout, but hard to tell that from the outside. There's a "hello? hello?" on the line, whether on the phone or not -- the outside, if present, knows they've been disconnected.

Then the pain of reality. If one is extrovert this might manifest as anger and an attempt to break everything within reach, to reject the new order of things by reordering. If introvert this might manifest as momentary regression to paralysis and dysphoria. The impossibility of it all.

Then the pain of self. Rage. Tears. Questioning not the fact of it, but the fact of the reality allowing what has happened. The extrovert forces themselves, angry, manic, back into the bruised pattern of their living. The introvert finds themselves wanting to be alone with some naïve proof of consistency -- a willing pet, a stand of trees, a moonrise.

And then there's more about the "wound" reality and the "closure" mirage, but I suspect you wanted the immediate, not long-term, things. So I've truncated those bits that got a little poetic and personal.

Good luck

[2021-05-17 1316]
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
I would feel cynical and distrustful of the person if I were "snitched" or if they told people who are my "enemies" any important information they could use to try to ruin me. Trust as a trait is related to loyalty. Also, if someone loses a person's trust it could lead to a lost friendship. It can ruin the person's relationship. It's also related to honesty. If you have trouble coming up with a reaction you can always consult the positive trait thesaurus or the negative trait thesaurus. I admit I don't consult it often, but it could help you imagine maybe how a reaction could help you with plotting the story. This is pretty bare bones and simple, but that is how I can predict I could react or maybe that's how I expect a person to react.
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
His hand stopped on his chin. The faint chuckled vanished and his eyebrows crumpled. Horror swept his eyes and he gulped. He stared at Jannet for several seconds.
His hand stopped, his chuckles faded. Horror swept his eyes frozen, staring at Jannet's for three long seconds. He gulped deeply, shaking his head. "How? How can that be?" he asked.
 

Kimoco

Senior Member
If I pretend it to be me receiving that news, I would shake my head and my hand leaves my chin and hangs in mid-air, almost lifeless. Maybe even breathing in harder and faster, when in shock. Disbelief also, for sure.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top