Putting emotion on the body

One of the many issues I discovered with my previous draft is that I like to do a lot of telling, and not as much showing. I guess I was just always better at that part in Kindergarten.

But honestly, this is an issue that a lot of writers struggle with. So I thought I’d take a second and try to work through it a bit. My particular issue with show and tell is that I need to put the emotions of my characters on their bodies. What does that mean? Well, instead of saying, “Aine is really mad,” saying something like “Aine clenched her teeth and forced a smile.” When I write the second one, it’s so much more intriguing. You can really see how she’s angry, right? I’m showing you, not just telling you.

The problem is, how do you fit in these little descriptions without choosing the obvious ones? You can only say “Aine clenched her teeth” so many times before your reader gets bored. And you want to build your character’s emotions too.They can’t just keep having the same stale reactions.

So, that’s where I’m stuck. It’s 100 pages in, and my characters are looking caricature-ish.

Take this scene: Hennessey and Aine (pronounced On-yuh) are chatting. Hennessey jokingly says that she thought Aine (who is one of the fey) was enchanting her and that was the only reason Hennessey had joined Aine on her journey thus far. She thought Aine was forcing her to. Aine doesn’t get the joke, and feels really sad. She thinks the only friend she has met so far doesn’t even really want to hang out with her.

So, do I say she’s sad? Nope. That’s telling. Hmm…maybe she feels like she’s been sucker-punched in the gut? But that’s a little too violent an image.

I’m stuck with this description, so I wonder, what do you guys think? How do I put the emotion on her body? What does she feel?