Friday, March 19, 2010

Make'm Cry

This week I'm struggling with writing believable emotions for my characters.  In the Action-Reaction-Decision chain of storytelling I often short change the Reaction phase. How do my characters feel about what just happened? And how do I express that in a way that is unique to my character with words and actions that I haven't used a hundred times already? Not every character can bite their lips or blink back the tears when they're uncomfortable or upset.

Do you come right out and tell the reader the character's emotions? I find sometimes when I try to show them, the reader takes away the wrong emotion. Am I using the wrong body language or do we all interpret a situation based on what our own reactions would be?

Do you analyze the emotion in your story? Do you state right out what the character is feeling so there are no doubts? Or do you go for the more subtle approach and try to show the reaction?

10 comments:

Kelly Boyce said...

I don't know! Oh no... more things to think about.... ahhhh!!

Anne MacFarlane said...

LOL. I know Kelly. Revisions make me think of all those details.

Janet said...

I think I try to show them - I've never really given it a lot of thought. Now, I will.

Good luck with wringing those emotions out of your characters, Anne :)

Cat Schield said...

Showing emotions too much gets me in trouble. How many times can a character gasp or frown or step back or exhale. When I go back and reread my first drafts I cringe.

Good luck with adding emotion.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Janet, I'm glad I gave you another thing to think about when you're writing. LOL.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Cat, my characters always do the same thing. Book after Book.

Julia Smith said...

I have a history of not letting the reader know how the character is feeling. Been working on that for some time, now. Not really sure how I've been doing in that regard until I send out my first submission.

Rachael Johns said...

Ahh.. emotions! Another thing I wrestle with. In previous mss, I've been guilty of not putting in enough emotion, so this latest mss reads a bit like melodrama too me. But I figure I can always pull back in the edits!

Anne MacFarlane said...

Julia, that's the test isn't it? Whether an editor thinks you've got it right.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Rachael, it's a tough balancing act. And it's hard to be objective about our own work when we revise.