3 min read
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February 7, 2024

12 Ways To Convey Emotion in Your Writing

12 Ways To Convey Emotion in Your Writing

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Writing with emotion is an important skill for all writers — bloggers, novelists, copywriters, journalists, students, and many others. It can help you connect with your readers, persuade your audience, or simply bring your ideas to life with flair. 

But you might be unsure how to do it or what “emotive writing” really is.

In my 11-year career as an editor and writing coach, I’ve guided numerous students to become well-versed in emotive writing — writing that stirs up genuine emotions and captivates readers. 

In this article, I’ll share 12 ways to infuse your work with emotion. I’ve also included examples to illustrate the difference between emotive and non-emotive writing, plus a bonus tip to help you succeed.

Key takeaways

  • Emotive writing enables you to connect with or persuade your audience by eliciting genuine emotions.
  • You can use various techniques to convey emotion in writing — from employing sensory language and sharing anecdotes to using strong verbs and adjusting your tone.
  • AI tools like Wordtune can help enhance your writing and ensure you strike the right chord with your audience.

12 tips for writing with emotion

All that stands between you and emotive writing are some essential tips and tricks. Let’s explore my top 12 below.

Tip #1 - Use active voice

Choosing active voice (where a subject performs an action) over passive voice (where an action is done to a subject) enhances the emotional impact of your writing by emphasizing the person or thing responsible for the action.

For example:

Passive voice: “Yvette was betrayed by Marcos.”
Active voice: “Marcos betrayed Yvette.”

Here, active voice places responsibility firmly on Marcos, making his betrayal of Yvette more impactful. This makes it easier for readers to sympathize with Yvette and feel anger toward Marcos.

The easiest way to nail active voice is to always put the “doer” (subject) at the start of the sentence. Follow up with the action (verb), then the receiver of the action (object).

For example:

“Mika (subject) longed for (verb) the familiar sights and sounds of her hometown (object).”

AI tip: Wordtune can help you switch from passive to active voice in seconds. Highlight a sentence and tap the Rewrite button in Wordtune’s Editor to generate a list of suggested replacements.

The Rewrite button in Wordtune’s Editor suggests various sentence replacements, including some that turn passive voice into active voice.
The Rewrite button in Wordtune’s Editor suggests various sentence replacements, including some that turn passive voice into active voice.

Tip #2 - Use sensory language

You can evoke specific emotions with your writing by using language that plays on the five senses (touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound). Sensory language also helps create vivid images in the reader’s mind, allowing them to better connect with what you’re saying.

For example, writing “the rough texture of his sandpaper-like hands” can convey discomfort and irritation. Meanwhile, “the sweet aroma of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls” can communicate comfort and joy, and “the incessant, rhythmic ticking of the clock” can evoke anxiety.

On a similar note, avoid stating emotions outright. Instead, demonstrate emotions through actions, body language, experiences, or atmospheric details‌ — show, don’t tell. This makes for a more engaging reading experience.

For example: “I felt terrified.” → “My legs trembled violently and a chill ran down my spine as I climbed up the rusty ladder. With each creaky step, the floor below me seemed to grow further away.”

Tip #3 - Incorporate similes, metaphors, and symbols

Similes (which compare two things) and metaphors (which equate one thing to another) are powerful tools for making your writing more emotive.

Here are some examples:

  • Simile: “Her smile was like sunshine after rain, brightening everyone’s day.” This evokes positivity and creates striking images in the reader’s mind.
  • Metaphor: “Your potential is a dormant volcano, waiting to erupt with success.” This inspires feelings of inspiration and eagerness. When used in a marketing or advertising context, it can persuade the reader to take action — e.g., by buying your product or signing up for your service.

Additionally, you can incorporate symbols to represent emotions throughout your writing. For example, a wilting flower can symbolize fading hope, while a lighthouse beacon can communicate determination and resilience.

Tip: Avoid clichés in symbolism — e.g., a lightbulb to signify an idea — to prevent your work from sounding dry and predictable. Instead, choose symbols that are unique and relevant to your piece of writing.

Tip #4 - Add personal anecdotes

Share personal experiences from your life to make your writing resonate emotionally. For example, if you’re writing about the importance of hard work, you could tell a story about a time you overcame a difficult challenge through perseverance.

Anecdotes like these provide a personal touch that draws readers in and encourages them to connect with your writing.

Tip #5 - Opt for emotive adjectives

Emotive adjectives demand attention and elicit strong emotional reactions in readers. “Breathtaking” conjures feelings of awe and wonder, for instance, while “serene” evokes peace and tranquility, and “menacing” conveys fear.

Using emotive adjectives can help you persuade your audience. For example, if you’re selling a product, you could use adjectives such as “cutting-edge” or “top-rated” to generate curiosity and give the product a positive appeal.

Apple uses tons of emotive adjectives in its ad copy, describing the iPhone 15 Pro’s Dynamic Island tool as “a magical way to interact with iPhone.” The company used adjectives like “phenomenal,” “amazing,” “incredible,” “industry-first,” and “aerospace-grade” to detail the phone’s other features.

These words all help evoke feelings of admiration and excitement within Apple’s existing audience and potential new customers.

Apple uses emotive adjectives such as “phenomenal” in ad copy for the iPhone 15 Pro’s 48MP camera.
Apple's iPhone Pro 15 camera description

Tip #6 - Replace adverb phrases with strong verbs

Adverb phrases tend to use vague terms like “softly” or “quickly”. ​​​​Replacing adverb phrases with strong verbs in your writing allows readers to experience the action more directly, encouraging a greater emotional response.

For example:

  • “walked slowly” (adverb phrase) → “crept” (strong verb, evokes anticipation or fear)
  • “cried loudly” (adverb phrase” → “wailed” (strong verb, conveys intense sorrow)
  • “looked angrily” (adverb phrase) → “glared” (strong verb, suggests hostility)

Tip #7 - Use white space strategically

White space — the empty areas between lines and paragraphs on a page — influences the pacing of your writing. Lots of white space gives readers “breathing room” and speeds up reading. On the other hand, minimal white space slows readers down and encourages them to absorb your words.

Experimenting with white space lets you control your writing’s emotional rhythm and impact.

For example, place a sentence on its own line to create a sense of importance and amplify its emotional weight. Or, use lots of short paragraphs to generate anticipation or long paragraphs to convey seriousness and intensity.

Tip #8 - Vary your sentence structure

You can convey a range of emotions by switching up the structure and length of your sentences.

Short sentences with simple structures can suggest stress, danger, or excitement. Meanwhile, longer sentences with more elaborate structures can imply longing, sadness, admiration, or regret.

Let’s look at two examples from The Great Gatsby:

  • Short sentences: “She narrowed her eyes and shivered. Lucille shivered. We all turned and looked around for Gatsby.”
  • Long sentences: “It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole eternal world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”

Use one or the other — or a mix of both — depending on the emotion(s) you want to infuse into your writing.

AI tip: Condense or lengthen your sentences in a snap using Wordtune’s Shorten and Expand features.

Wordtune’s Shorten feature suggests options to condense a sentence.
Wordtune’s Shorten feature suggests options to condense a sentence.

Tip #9 - Strike the right tone

Tone defines the mood of your writing — relaxed, serious, humorous, friendly, etc. — so aligning it with the emotion(s) you want to convey is key. 

Say you want to evoke joy in your writing. Ensure your tone is lively and filled with positive language. For example, instead of writing, “I was happy,” say, “My heart was bursting with happiness, and my skin tingled with elation.”

Or, perhaps you want to convey a sense of urgency in a persuasive piece. Go for an authoritative tone, using formal language and clear, assertive statements. For example: “Time is of the essence. Failure to act now will have dire consequences.”

AI tip: With Wordtune, perfecting tone of voice is easy. Open the Wordtune Editor, begin writing (or paste your work in), highlight the text, and tap the Casual or Formal button. Wordtune will generate several options to make your writing more conversational or more serious.

Wordtune’s Casual button takes a highlighted sentence and suggests a more conversational alternative.
Wordtune’s Casual button takes a highlighted sentence and suggests a more conversational alternative.

Tip #10 - Incorporate humor

Humor can help you convey many emotions in your writing — from happiness to empathy and everything in between. (Using humor is also one of the best ways to tailor your writing for a Gen Z audience and make your social media content more relatable.)

Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Incorporate puns and other wordplay. For example: “After an hour waiting in line for the rollercoaster, I felt like I’d been competing in a show called Survivor: Theme Park Edition.” This highlights the narrator’s frustration and exhaustion through a humorous play on language.
  • Sprinkle in sarcasm, irony, or satire. Comment on society’s quirks or the strangeness of everyday life to evoke amusement and introspection. Use sarcasm — e.g., “Another flat tire: just what I was hoping for!” — to express emotions like irritation, frustration, or doubt.
  • Surprise the reader. Drop a witty remark or punchline when the audience least expects it — for example, after a tense scene or moment of danger. This contrast can make both the lighthearted and poignant moments in your writing more impactful.

Tip: Be mindful of your piece’s tone and context to ensure the humor lands well. If the humor doesn’t fit, leave it out (and use some of the other tips on this list instead).

Tip #11 - Tap into nostalgia

As in life, nostalgia is a potent force in writing. It can stir feelings of comfort, happiness, sentimental longing, or sadness in readers.

​​You can also use nostalgia to elicit specific emotions and persuade an audience. In fact, this is a popular marketing technique. Advertisers and copywriters will create nostalgic scenes that remind consumers of fond memories and motivate them to buy a product.

Below are some ways to tap into nostalgia in your writing.

  • Use cultural references to jog readers’ memories of bygone eras. This is especially effective when your references are tied to certain events and trends, such as movie releases, music movements, or historical moments.
  • Explore common human experiences such as childhood friendships, family gatherings, and milestones like first heartbreak. Create new scenes that dive into these moments, or share personal anecdotes from your past that mirror these experiences.
  • Use slang from specific eras (e.g., “bodacious” or “gnarly” from the ‘80s) to transport readers back in time and evoke emotions they associate with the period.
  • Implement sensory language when describing the past. For instance, you might describe the taste of a dessert you once loved, the sound of a familiar song, or the scent of your childhood home.

Tip #12 - Use contrast

Amplify the intensity of the emotions in your writing by contrasting “highs” (positive emotions) with “lows” (negative emotions). Juxtapose emotions like joy and sorrow, love and heartbreak, or fear and excitement to make each feel more impactful.

You might also explore contrasting images, settings, or time periods to evoke emotions. For example, depicting a bright, sunny day following a dark, stormy night can convey hope. Also, moving from the past to the present can underscore, for instance, a main character’s longing for the way things used to be.

Bonus tip: Go slow and be sparing

Emotions often hit harder in writing when there’s a build-up to them. For example, hard-won happiness feels more impactful than sudden joy, and lingering grief resonates more than occasional sadness.

So, take time crafting your narrative and laying the emotional groundwork — really “earn” the feelings. Readers will be more likely to invest in and connect with your writing when you do.

Finally, remember that emotive language is like spice: it can add fantastic depth and flavor, but too much of it can overwhelm the senses. Use it sparingly to ensure readers are drawn in, not put off.


Knowing how to convey emotion in your writing helps you pack a punch with words and connect with your audience — whether you’re looking to tug at their heartstrings or convince them of something.

With the tips outlined in this guide (and some help from Wordtune’s tools), mastering emotive writing can be easy and fun. You can play on readers’ senses with descriptive language, share personal anecdotes, incorporate emotive adjectives, use humor, and more. 

Continue leveling up your writing by exploring our guides on rewriting sentences so they don’t sound bland and proofreading to keep your work flawless.


What is it called when you use emotion in writing?

Using emotion in writing is called “emotive writing.” The writer uses expressive language and storytelling techniques to convey feelings, evoke emotional responses, and create a lasting impact on readers.

How do you describe your emotions in writing?

In writing, you can convey your emotions by using descriptive, sensory language and sharing personal experiences.

What are emotive adjectives?

Emotive adjectives are descriptive words that evoke a specific emotional response from readers. Examples include “appalling,” “heartbreaking,” “exhilarating,” “thrilling,” and “enchanting.”

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