We’ve all experienced something like it. The loss of a friend or family member, a tough day at work, too much to do all in one day… There are many things in life that stress us out or make us feel overwhelmed. But how do you write characters feeling these things in your books?
Draw from your own experiences
Start with what you know. Think about how you react to grief, stress, and overwhelm. Jot down notes and reference this when you’re having trouble. However…
Everyone reacts differently
Keep this in mind when writing. Everyone reacts somewhat differently. You might have one character who cries when they’re stressed, one who simply secludes himself, one who snaps at people who are trying to help him, and one who simply tries to work through it. (If it’s the latter, I applaud said character. I could never do that.)
So to expand your list of reactions, maybe ask friends how they react to these feelings, and then fill in the gaps with imagination. And don’t feel limited to the list. Sometimes what you’ve listed just doesn’t fit a character, and in those cases you kind of have to go with your gut. Or you could just throw out the list entirely and work entirely spontaneously like I do. Whatever works. The main thing to keep in mind is that no one reacts exactly the same way, so if you have a lot of characters going through similar issues (like all my poor suffering characters in The Dark War Trilogy), don’t let their responses be cookie-cutter images of each other.
I hope this post was helpful. :)