Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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I’m late, I’m late….apologies!

February 8, 2013

Firstly my apologies for being so late in posting – life took a left turn and I got overwhelmed! Anyway, I’m here now and hopefully today’s word will give you food for thought. Today’s word:

Trepidation – definition: hesitation due to fear or nervousness

I have spoken before about reading in front of audiences and how practicing before hand does help as well as focusing on a friendly face in the crowd. Whether you are new to a writing group, participating in an author reading or presenting at a conference the ‘trick’ is to be prepared.  Unless you are an accomplished public speaker, delivering your work to an audience is nerve racking.  I am sure we have all felt trepidation at our ‘first’ performance but with support from family and friends we will overcome.

However, I thought I would write about how we can define trepidation in our characters. I was lucky enough to receive a complimentary copy of the Emotion Thesaurus last year. It is an exceptional resource for showing a characters emotion without sentence after sentence of exposition. Maintaining the rule – show not tell.


Words that show trepidation include – trembling, cold feet, cold sweat, jitters, goose bumps. I’m sure you can list more. A good way to create the mood of your character is to describe how they look to your reader. A pale faced, swaying side to side woman brings to mind someone who is about to faint, when a red faced man throwing his arms around evokes someone who is angry and ready to fight.

When we create a mental picture of our character to ourselves as well as our readers they become ‘real’. When we can emphasize with them we are quickly drawn into their story and this is what ‘hooks’ us.

Many of us have come to the end of a book and wished it had continued. The characters and their lives stay within our minds as echoes, making a new novel and its inhabitants difficult to relate to for a while. This is why it is crucial to make the first paragraph or first few pages of our novel’s intriguing and engaging. We must ‘wash away’ the last novel’s echo to bring our reader into our creation.

That is where our trepidation really starts. The ‘hook’ is vitally important and knowing what that is, how to achieve it and master it is the trick. And something I can cover another day.

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