Portraying the emotion of confusion

Emotions can’t be told. They have to be shown

 
#FeelLines runs every Thursday on Twitter. The weekly theme is based on an emotion. The aim is to show a line where a character in your writing expresses this emotion.
 

Expressing the emotion of confusion

 
The definition of confusion is the state of not being certain about what is happening, what you should do, or what something means.

Let’s approach this emotion with the power of GIFs. I have used GIPHY as an example. I searched ‘confusion‘ and the results were pages of facial expressions which perfectly convey, ‘I haven’t got a clue what’s going on.’
 

Here are some examples.

Looking around, as if trying to search for answers 

Showing her palms, shaking head with her mouth open

Tilting head, narrowed eyes, rapid blinking

Narrowed eyes, frowning, knitted brows, glancing from right to left.

 
Facial feedback signals allow the viewer to wear the expression and recognise the emotion. One study highlighted those who’d undergone botox found it more difficult to recognise other peoples emotions because of the lack of muscular feedback in their own facial muscles
 
The above shows a number of different ways a person can physically look confused, but here are a few more signals to add to the bag.

  • A difficulty in finding the right words, and their speech littered with um’s and ah’s.
  • They will ask questions, or go off tangent and use filler words to stall for time.
  • Lip biting
  • Running a hand through their hair
  • A blank expression
 
Your character may not want others to see their confusion. They might try to mask it with an excessive amount of head nodding.
 
How would a confusion person feel?

  • Hot
  • Tight chested
  • Headachey (especially if they frown a lot like me)
  • Their thoughts jumbled or racing away, trying to find an answer
Stuck for ways to describe emotion? Look to GIFs for some inspiration. Do you have a favourite ‘confused’ GIF?

I hope you can join in on #FeelLines and will be looking out for your entries every Thursday.

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