Ramping up Emotion

Happy Orthodox Easter for all those who celebrate the holiday!

As it’s the first of the month, it’s time to think fresh and delve into the writing world with a clear head.

I‘d like to look at how we can write with full emotion and depth. I’m not talking about things like filters, how to show “hands shaking” or “gulping a nervous breath”. No, I’m not talking about that at all. After all, a good portion of writers already know this. And if you don’t, please follow the links and you’ll be able to get up to speed pretty fast (the second site, run by Angela and Becca, is pretty amazing, so you might want to add that as a regular resource)!

Okay, so with that worked out, let’s look at what I mean about emotion…

As writers, we know our characters and our plot (or at least we should). We know when they have to feel sad, nervous or happy. We know when they are embarrassed or scared. But…are we really feeling that ourselves when we write? Be honest with yourself here. Or are you excited when you write your horror scene because you love the way it’s going? Well, great you’re excited, but what will that achieve in your scene? Horror or excitement? Now, I’m not saying don’t write with excitement. Do! But, when it comes to editing, you need to put yourself in the emotion of the scene.

Let’s look at two different emotions:

Horror – that sensation you get when you creep forward in the pitch black, your steps so stilted you don’t feel like you’re moving, your mind frozen, but you’re somehow still moving forward, like you’re made of mechanics. Your hands curl around the wall corners and you can’t take a breath; your neck and jaw hurt from tensing, you feel like you can’t move and your eyes hurt from staring into the dark… There’s a deep beating in your mind that’s so strong you can’t even form thoughts. You’re just rigid and your mind is white static.

Well, that’s what it’s like for me. How is it for you? What is it that really goes through your mind, heart, body?

Love – when you have that inability to stand still, your muscles jittering but you make yourself stand still because you don’t want to look weird. A smile that’s warm enough to make the back of your jaw water if you try not to smile it. A laugh that builds in your throat but doesn’t quite come out and widens that smile even further. That odd, tight breath in your chest. The excitement running through your head that makes you look at the person you love with admiration and you just shake your head, thinking they are…amazing.

Now, this isn’t how everyone would describe horror or love, but it is how I would describe it. And then what I do is cater that to my character and how they would feel it. I look at the differences between me and my character. In order to get your emotion in there, you need to squarely put yourself in the feet of the character. Don’t just gloss over the surface, as we can be prone to do. Dig right down. Sit in your scene. Actually, get right in there. How you do when you watch an amazing movie, or get so swallowed up by a book and you forget the world around you, and you forget to breath until your chest shudders and reminds you.

So, those are my tips for writing with emotion. I’d love to find out what everyone else thinks works!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s