Stocking Stuffers for Writers: Emotion


Stocking Stuffers is a series for the busy writer/blogger this holiday season. 

We know time is in short supply, so each day leading to Christmas, we'll offer 5 simple, smart tips on an important topic to writers, helping with craft enhancement, revision and social networking!

Today's Stocking Stuffer: Honing your mad EMOTION skillz:

1--Know what you want the reader to feel. Everything you put your character through--good, bad, ugly...it's all to evoke a reaction from the reader. Be mindful of exactly what you want your audience to experience as you write. In order for the book to succeed, the reader must invest in the character's plight and root for them as they struggle.

2--Use everything in your writing arsenal.
Emotions are best shown through physical action, but the choices you make with story elements and structure can also enhance the experience for the reader. Setting choices (day, night, the weather, a setting with emotional tie to a character) can affect mood. Challenging a character's strengths or revealing a weaknesses can bring out raw feeling. Description, wording, pacing, conflict, sentence structure...all of these can and should be used with intent to help bring about a specific reaction/feeling.

3--Be genuine, not melodramatic.
With emotion more so than anything else, it's easy to go a touch too far. Always keep an eye out for proportion when displaying emotion, making sure the reaction is relevant to the situation, within the character's response range and most importantly, cliche-free.

4--Minimize thoughts, maximize action. Showing emotion through thoughts can be a slippery slope and can lead to telling/explaining. Showing emotion physically is difficult for a reason--it means having an intimate knowledge of the way your character expresses themselves. Strive for a balance of showing that leans more on action, with emotional thoughts acting as an enhancement. What your character does to express themselves will have more of an impact than what they think about the situation.

5--Emotions should lead to decisions.
Always keep the story moving forward. A character agonizing over a choice will crank up the tension & heighten stakes, but too much will slow the pace. Remember too, often when emotion is involved, we make mistakes. Mistakes = great conflict!

13 comments:

Deb said...

I have decided I am printing these off--thanks again, Angela!

Laurel Garver said...

Great tips. I especially like the one about proportion, because it is easy to go too extreme in character's reactions.

I've sometimes erred in the other extreme, though--underplaying emotion to a degree my readers felt the character was too analytical and not having an honest reaction. Getting emotions right can be a tough balancing act.

Steena Holmes said...

I love #4 and need to remember it! Thanks for posting these!

Jacqueline Howett said...

Some good points. Thanks for the reminders. Yes I was dwelling on number 4. Maybe its a writers loner thing. For instance as I dwell on it, I never really know what my BF is thinking. Sometimes his actions befuddle me too. It depends on what the action is.

Jacqueline Howett Author of The Greek Seaman
http://jacquelinehowett.blogspot.com/

Jenn said...

Thanks for the excellent points. I'm enjoying these stocking stuffers--they last longer than the chocolate I usually get in my stocking. :)

AubrieAnne said...

I love 3 and 5. They will be really helpful when i get back into my novels!

AubrieAnne @ http://whosyoureditor.blogspot.com/

Heather said...

Thank you so much! I especially needed #1 and #4. I'll be putting them to good use!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

These are all so useful. I need to remember #4! :-)

Becca Puglisi said...

Ahhhh, #5. My poor Nerien. Why are you content to wallow and not DO anything? *trudges back to WIP*

Nicole Zoltack said...

Wow, this series is chock full of great tips! I have to work the hardest on #4

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This is the best stocking stuffer yet. :D

Thanks, Angela!

Jemi Fraser said...

These are great tips! Thank you so much :)

Beth said...

I thought point #2 was really interesting. Once again you've helped me think about a different way to accomplish something in my writing. It's so easy to choose a bland setting. I love the idea of using a setting that actually changes or reveals the character's mood. Thanks!

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