Friday, March 5, 2010

Tip for March 5, 2010; Emotion

When you think of emotion, what do you picture? A funeral? A reunion? A little girl crying in the store because she can't get that expensive Barbie?

I'm writing this because I am at fault; I typically don't use a whole lot of emotion. And emotion is a writer's best friend.

In order to write emotion, you need to ask yourself, "What does my character feel about this? What does he think about it?"

And again, I admit freely that I have trouble doing this. I greatly admire writers that are so skilled that they can cause emotion in me, not just the character.
Here's an example of how not to do it;

Johnny was feeling sad and sorrowful over his grandfather's death. He had cried a little. The funeral was the day after tomorrow.

Not the greatest of paragraphs. Most likely, that didn't make you feel any emotion, and I poorly (on purpose, of course) described what Johnny, my character, was feeling. Besides that, the sentences were choppy and didn't flow smoothly.

A little side note on description; (I learned it from my father just yesterday;) Never use a long word when short ones will do. In other words, what is the use of using a long word if the person reading your book doesn't know what it means?

Anyway, back to emotion. Besides what the character thinks and feels, he/she can express emotion through dialogue and action. Two examples would be stammering (to show fear, embarrassment, etc.) and crying, (to show sorrow, happiness, etc.). Now, I'll give a better example as to what I think would be a good way to put it;

The heat of the blazing fire all around Jado made him feel as if he himself was burning. He wanted to leave the burning house, but the struggling shape of his father held him still.

'Father!' he cried.
Jado's father was trapped beneath a fallen support, struggling weakly to get loose. A look of pure panic and terror filled his father's eyes as he writhed.
'Leave the house!' Jado's father managed to say.'
'No, I can't leave you!' Jado shouted helplessly, tears running down his smoke-stained face. 'I don't think I could live if you die!'
The next words Jado's father said were burned into Jado's soul for the rest of his life.
'You can always get back up again,' he said, looking deep into his son's eyes, all fear gone. 'No matter how far down, it's never too late to get back up...'

He slumped forward, breathing his last.

Hopefully that stirred a little more emotion in you. Several times, if you could see it, I told what Jado, the character, was feeling, and he verbally told his father what he was thinking. I hoped that helped you. It actually helped me, and I'm the one writing this!

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