1. MannaChuu
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    MannaChuu New Member

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    How can I convey emotions through my characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MannaChuu, Jul 21, 2011.

    How can I, as the writer, convey to you, as the reader, the emotions that my characters are feeling? How can I make you sympathize with my characters? I need to learn how to do this before I will feel confidant enough to post any fanfiction as lately I have noticed that I simply have not put enough love or care into my writing. And if I can't put any care or effort in, how can I expect my readers too?

    Some examples of what I'm trying achieve are listed below:

    -How can I make you feel truely terrified when one of my characters is going through some kind of torture?

    -How can I make your heart flutter with glee when my characters are making love?

    -How can I make you want to cry with dispair when something horrible happens to my characters?

    Any tips, guides or criticism (so long as it's constructive) are more than welcome!

    (btw I've posted this exact page in several other forums and im beginning to feel a little like a troll. I hope I've posted this on the correct forum and hope even more so that someone can help me)
     
  2. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    There is no way to answer this other than practice, skill, perseverance, and READ.

    Putting your reader into the characters shoes is a key component, but other than that, there is no real answer other than practice and read.

    Writing exorcises would really help in this case. Pick an emotion you want to convey. Write a small 500 word story conveying that emotion and put it up for critique. Have other readers read it and let them tell you if they were able to relate to the character as you want them to. Then based on the constructive criticism, incorporate that into your writing until you get your desired results. It's really the only way.
     
  3. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    And maybe that is where you should start. Put care and effort into your writing. If you don't, then there is no one to blame but yourself.

    Treat your characters with respect. Make them real. They deserve to be taken care off, if you don't treat them as such, they won't return the favor. ;)

    This doesn't mean you can't create unlikeable/bad characters, but respecting their emotions and treating them with care is a part of being a writer.
     
  4. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    Maybe an emotion thesaurus?
    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?p=784145#post784145

    despair;·
    torture:
    When I want to be sure I describe something I look here for words or even descriptions that I might not have thought about.
     
  5. MannaChuu
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    MannaChuu New Member

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    Ok thanks a lot guys. This really helps! I just needed someone to give me a little push in the right direction. I'm sorry I haven't looked after my characters or given them enough love :( but this is why I'm trying to better myself. They and my readers deserve better, even if it's not for profit. (Im not interested in making any money, I just want to explore and understand the art of writing because it brings me so much joy) :)
     
  6. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to get inside your characters heads. Understand them from the inside. To show a character's emotions well and to get the reader to feel these emotions you mention, you need to live and feel these things along with you character, then you will be able to write with true understanding and feeling.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Watch out for these. They might be helpful on occasion if not heavily relied on, but too much usage will make emotional displays cookie-cutter and trite. Besides, crying can mean all different emotions besides sad, and someone who fidgets a lot might have just had too much sugar.

    I recommend staying away from these, because it forces you to stretch your own mind when it comes to other tone-setters, like little ominous things going on in the room.

    The biggest part of conveying emotion is tone-setting, not decribing how your MC feels. You can set up tones with lots of tools: sentence structure and diction/syntax, (research asyndeton/polysyndeton and cacophony/euphony), setting details (are the lights too bright, or do they flicker on and off) etc.

    These things require that you stretch your mind and be creative, and you don't want to be cliche about it. For example, if all the crickets outside suddenly stop chirping shortly after other ominous noises were heard, that could be extremely unsettling. However, if all the crickets stop chirping right after the bad guy says something threatning, that's just cheesy. (Drastic example, but can work with the light flickering, etc too.) And make sure the flashlight battery doesn't die right when it's worst for the characters; this has a too-convenient feel written all over it. Instead, have the battery die a few times before, and they have to smack it back to life a few times but then, at the worst moment, it dies for good. Then it feels less...trite.
     
  8. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think there's an easy answer to your question, but you can try to pay attention to how people show emotion in real life. They shuffle their feet. They turn away from someone. Their eyes flicker. They stare. They pause. They rub two fingers against each other. And any number of things you won't find in an emotion thesaurus, a psychology book or anywhere else.

    The interesting thing is that most of these expressions are ambigious. They can mean completely different things depending on context. For example, a pause can convey anger, impatience, insecurity, skepticism, threat, and a number of other emotions. Everything needs to work together to create the right emotion.

    Some examples:

     
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  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    thanks for that tips. it was exactly what I was looking for for my novel since I realised I never know exactly how to show emotions through character action. I was actually just thinking about going to the library and look for a book about body language so this came very helpful. :))) thank you so much.
     
  10. MannaChuu
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    MannaChuu New Member

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    I think this is just something that a lot of amature authors overlook. After reading a fanfic online that was so full of emotion, I was quite literally sitting on the edge of my seat, had sweaty palms and an increased heartrate, I realised "Hey...how come none of my fanfics get me going like that?" So I decided to get the opinions of you fine people who actually know what they're talking about! ^^ Thanks again guys!
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    re-reading mallorys post I see she wasn't totally positive to this site, but I think my character would benefit from a little descriptive body language to reinforce the effect and credibility of their feelings.
     

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