How to Write Reflective Sentences

Updated July 20, 2017

Reflective sentences show characters "reflecting" on their own feelings and motivations during the course of a story. When used properly, reflective sentences can add depth to any work of writing by giving the reader a better understanding of a character's thought process and psychological motivations.

Read an example of a piece of writing that uses reflective sentences effectively. One of the best examples of this is the first chapter of Herman Melville's classic "Moby Dick." This reading will help you familiarise yourself with what good reflective sentences look and sound like and how to make them work with the narrative flow of a story.

Underline or highlight at least five examples of reflective sentences in your reading. You will recognise reflective sentences by the way they explore thoughts and feelings as well as, or rather than, facts or events. For example, the sentence, "With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship," tells us how the narrator, Ishmael, views going to sea as a kind of "shock therapy" to help him get over his melancholy.

Write a paragraph reflecting on a strongly emotional experience from your past, including at least one reflective sentence that shows how you were thinking or feeling at the time. Keep in mind that a good reflective sentence is easy to understand, but is also original and insightful. For example, if you want to describe how mad you felt when you saw your ex-girlfriend at party with another guy, avoid using a cliché like, "I was so mad I saw red." You don't have to be overtly clever or deep --- even a simple, descriptive sentence like, "I was so mad that I wanted to retreat to a room with a loud fan and plenty of pillows to scream into," will give the reader a strong impression of how you felt at that moment.

Write additional paragraphs continuing the story of the emotional event from your past until you have a full page. Again, include at least one reflective sentence in each paragraph. However, it is also important not to go overboard with reflective sentences. By peppering them throughout your writing like Melville did, you can show the reader the extra dimension of thoughts and feelings in your story. But too many reflective sentences in a small space will sound less like introspection and more like a mad person talking to himself.


If you're having trouble getting started, try writing a daily journal reflecting on your own thoughts and feelings. Although "reflective writing" is often applied to a specific kind of journal-like writing in which a writer examines his past, techniques from this method can be applied to any kind of writing.

Things You'll Need

  • Chapter 1 of "Moby Dick," by Herman Melville
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About the Author

Kevin Corbett graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English secondary education. Specializing in literature, education and gaming, Corbett's writing has been published in magazines and online publications such as "Able Muse" and 14 by 14.