Just about every book on how to write a novel or screenplay advises, “show, don’t tell” what emotion your character is experiencing.
One way to figure out how to do that is to identify the thing you want to show, and then ask “what do we see or hear?” in that situation. The trick is not to stick with your first answers, which tend to be predictable and clichéd.
To go beyond these rather predictable choices, think about how anger is reflected in the behaviour of three or four people you know. These could be grandparents, parents, siblings, spouses or partners, friends, bosses or co-workers.
My father’s pattern was to have a short outburst of shouting and then retreating to his workshop. My mother seldom raised her voice, she turned her anger into a display of disappointment and hurt . One friend goes ballastic, shouting the meanest things that come to his mind--and an hour later has forgotten the whole thing. Another friend shows what I’d call “cold anger”—not much change in his expression, but his voice turns quieter and steely.
When you’ve generated a list of responses you’ve encountered, match one of them with your character or use them as a springboard to come up with a different reaction. Of course this works just as well for any other emotion you want to show.
Using non-stereotypical expressions of emotion on the part of your character will help them to come alive on the page—and that’s always a good thing!(How did the great writers like Dickens, Austen, Conrad and modern masters like Heminway and Fitzgerald create vivid characters? What advice did they have for writers? You'll find the answers in "Your Creative Writing Masterclass," published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)