I wrote the following:

When I opened my eyes, it was still dark. Half asleep, I got out of bed, and entered the bathroom. As I emptied my bladder, I checked my face in the mirror. For an instant, I couldn't recognize the person reflected in it. Only when I waved my hand and person waved back that I realized it was me. When had been the last time I'd looked at myself in the mirror? A slight headache came upon me. After flushing the toilet and washing my hands, I searched the cabinet for some painkillers only to realize there wasn't one. Right, I was in a hotel in Jade Mountain—not at home.

Shaking the water off my hands, I walked across the room, but then stopped abruptly in the middle.

An unsettling feeling began welling inside me. There's was something wrong in the room—but I couldn't quite tell what it was. I felt as though I had entered a house with the gas stove left on; the atmosphere was dense and strange, thought apparently invisible to my eyes.

Suddenly, I realized what it was: Naomi was no longer in the room.

I turned on the light and glanced around. Her purse, her clothes; all her things were still here. Everything except her shoes.

My heart started pounding at a increasingly rapid pace. I checked my watch. Almost midnight. Where could she have gone at this time? I turned to look at the window. The trees were still swaying in the wind and the leaves still rustling against the
ground. Quickly, I put on my jacket, my shoes, and then rushed downstairs.

Am effectively describing the character's panic and confusion? Does it feel natural and smooth?

  • if you were to introduce a monster about to break into a house. How would you do it
    – user19587
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 19:43
  • Placed under historical lock; critiques are currently off-topic. Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 2:13

4 Answers 4


The important thing about writing is to show, not tell. You want to draw your reader into the moment by relying on the character's senses and then walk them through the moment as if they were your character.

Here's a re-write that attempts to do that:

I opened my eyes. In the dark stillness, I couldn't see much, but the dim glow of the bedside clock and the vague shadow of the lamp next to it. Half alseep, I fumbled with the covers and stumbled to the bathroom. After emptying my bladder and flushing the toliet, I checked my reflection in the mirror. The haunted eyes and dark circles underneath them made the long, drawn-in face almost unrecognizable. I waved my hand and the person waved back. Good, I sighed, I'm still me.

A dozen needles danced their way across my forehead. I searched the cabinet above the sink and didn't find much but a few small bars of soap. Right, I was in a hotel in Jade Mountain—not at home.

Washing my hands, I switched off the bathroom light and waited. After my eyes adjusted to the murkiness, I glanced toward the bed. Even before my mind registered the flatness, I knew she wasn't there. Flipping on the overhead, I scanned the room. Wallet and keys peeked out from the jumbled pile that overflowed from a over-sized purse turned on its side. I glanced at the open closet near the door. Everything hung straight and level, except for a gap where her dark, leather coat should have been.

I checked my watch. Almost midnight. Where could Naomi have gone at this late hour?

Quickly, I put on my jacket, my shoes, and rushed downstairs.


I think it reads well. One key that helped me in writing a panicked state of a character was being told to use short sentences during that scene. You do that well and I think it helps bring that sense of urgency you are going for.


I came here from a search looking for panic facial expressions. Want to make sure I do it right. Anyway, I think that the OP needs to tweek the first couple of paragraphs or get rid if them all, jump right into were he feels that something is wrong.

You know how you can sometimes wake up in a tizzy sure that something is so very wrong? Have his heart race from the moment he wakes up, have him jump out if bed as if someone yanked him out if his dreams and dumped him into this feeling of panic.

It's wrong for anyone to rewite that for you as without meaning to they'll put their own writing style into it, you have to do this in your own style and voice. Hope you read this, I know it's an old toppic.

  • I'll join you in answering this old old question. There's way too much throat-clearing that gets in the way of the action. I'd rewrite that whole passage starting here: "Naomi was no longer in the room. Her purse, her clothes; all her things were still here. Everything except her shoes. It was almost midnight here in our room at the Jade Hotel. I put on my jacket and shoes and rushed downstairs with increasing worry." Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 20:15

How do you guys like this?

I was filled with trepidation. My heart was thumping so loud that I was sure everyone around me could hear it. In front of me, I could see my instructor’s mouth moving, words flying past my head. There was just one question popping up in my mind. What did I do to deserve this? In my logical mind I knew the water was calm, but my imagination was running wild, with rough waves tumbling angrily, pounding the shores. Also, with abundant mountains all around me, It felt like I was being cornered and trapped, with nowhere to go. A familiar voice woke me up from my reverie.

  • 1
    Hi, and welcome to Writers. This doesn't really answer the question. The OP is asking about technique, not for another example. Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 12:07

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