I know she’s crying

The final snippet in this passage is about showing the true distress of the characters, but in a way that is kind of oblique or side-on. (Why this obliqueness? Because Ort is afraid to look at his mum directly. Her pain is too painful for him, so he can only bear to look at her reflection in the door handles.)

I know she's crying. All the door handles glow in the dark. It's like I can see her face in them and she's crying in all of them. Tegwyn will hate looking after Grammar.

This snippet is tricky, so here are some suggestions on how to approach it.

Perceiving emotion: Imagine how your secondary character is feeling and how they are physically expressing that emotion.

Environmental detail: Choose an environmental detail.

Connecting environment and emotion: Link the emotion to the environmental detail. In the snippet, Ort sees his mum crying in the door handles. This link doesn’t have to be as literal as a mirror. Look at the examples for other ideas.

Snap back to logistics: Finally, you can button the whole scene with an understated logistical observation.

You might find this snippet easier if your narrator is avoiding looking at the other character.

His heart is racing too, I can feel it. The buses and bikes and taxis honk and squeal around us. Every time we rush forward—go driver, go—and then stop, blocked by traffic, I can feel Emmanuel squirm and fight his own skin. I hope Rashid locks the office properly.

His voice is calm. The snowy ground is blue in the moonlight. Even as the horses rocket along the path, he’s as calm as the snow. I wish we’d had a third horse for Mother.

Write your variation here.